Potential direct and indirect effects of climate change on a shallow natural lake fish assemblage

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Abstract

Much uncertainty exists around how fish communities in shallow lakes will respond to climate change. In this study, we modelled the effects of increased water temperatures on consumption and growth rates of two piscivores (northern pike [Esox lucius] and largemouth bass [Micropterus salmoides]) and examined relative effects of consumption by these predators on two prey species (bluegill [Lepomis macrochirus] and yellow perch [Perca flavescens]). Bioenergetics models were used to simulate the effects of climate change on growth and food consumption using predicted 2040 and 2060 temperatures in a shallow Nebraska Sandhill lake, USA. The patterns and magnitude of daily and cumulative consumption during the growing season (April–October) were generally similar between the two predators. However, growth of northern pike was always reduced (−3 to −45% change) compared to largemouth bass that experienced subtle changes (4 to −6% change) in weight by the end of the growing season. Assuming similar population size structure and numbers of predators in 2040–2060, future consumption of bluegill and yellow perch by northern pike and largemouth bass will likely increase (range: 3–24%), necessitating greater prey biomass to meet future energy demands. The timing of increased predator consumption will likely shift towards spring and fall (compared to summer), when prey species may not be available in the quantities required. Our findings suggest that increased water temperatures may affect species at the edge of their native range (i.e. northern pike) and a potential mismatch between predator and prey could exist.

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Breeggemann, J. J., Kaemingk, M. A., DeBates, T. J., Paukert, C. P., Krause, J. R., Letvin, A. P., … Chipps, S. R. (2016). Potential direct and indirect effects of climate change on a shallow natural lake fish assemblage. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 25(3), 487–499. https://doi.org/10.1111/eff.12248

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