New Fish and Climate Change Database, FiCli, Informs Freshwater Fisheries Management

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Researchers with the National CASC, USGS Cooperative Research Units, and partners have developed a searchable directory of peer-reviewed journal articles on fish and climate change, to support climate adaptation and management for freshwater fisheries worldwide.

UpdateView additional press on the database on the Wildlife Management Institute's Outdoor News Bulletin and the NCSU Department of Applied Ecology website.

Inland fish provide critical ecosystem services to communities worldwide and have important subsistence, cultural, and economic value. However, the freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes that these fish occupy are faced with challenges such as habitat degradation, overexploitation, and climate change, and have become one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. Fish are an important indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems, and an improved understanding of how they are affected by changing climate conditions will be critical to understanding the future of these ecosystems and identifying adaptive management strategies.

Ph.D. student, Bonnie Myers re-cementing pools in the Luquillo LTER artificial flumes to fix leaks.

Bonnie Myers conducting fieldwork in Puerto Rico (Credit: Ambar Torres Molinari)

Although climate change is known to affect fish globally, a comprehensive, online public database of how climate change has impacted inland fishes worldwide does not exist. To address this need, a team of researchers from the National CASC, the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, the University at Buffalo, George Mason University, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry developed the Fish and Climate Change Database, or FiCli (pronounced “fick-lee”). FiCli was completed following an extensive review of the literature on the documented and projected impacts of climate change on inland fish, first in North America and later globally. These two synthesis efforts were led by Abby Lynch, a Research Fish Biologist with the National CASC, and Bonnie Myers, a Fish Biologist with the National CASC and a PhD candidate in the North Carolina State University Department of Applied Ecology and the North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Myers, together with Trevor Krabbenhoft, an assistant professor of biological sciences in the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences and the RENEW Institute, then led the development of the FiCli database with participation from Lynch and others, using the information gathered from the systematic literature reviews. The resulting standardized database can be used by researchers and managers to obtain summary information on inland fish responses to climate change and recommended management actions. This information can then be used by managers and researchers to better predict future responses of different fish families and species to climate change across a range of geographic regions.

The database is updatable, and new papers will continue to be added as they become available. A web upload form has also been created to allow user-submitted database entries to be reviewed and uploaded by the project team. As a result, FiCli will continue to be a source for the most up-to-date published information on the impacts of climate change on inland fish, serving as an important resource for fisheries managers in a changing climate.

A detailed description of the database can be found in Scientific Data, a NatureResearch journal. All data and code are made available by the USGS. 

In addition to Krabbenhoft, Myers, and Lynch, co-authors of the Scientific Data paper include:

  • Jesse P. Wong at George Mason University
  • Cindy Chu, PhD, at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Ralph W. Tingley III, PhD, at the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit housed at the University of Missouri
  • Jeffrey A. Falke, PhD, at the Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Thomas J. Kwak, PhD, at the North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit housed at North Carolina State University
  • Craig P. Paukert, PhD, at the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

The American Fisheries Society funded workshops that led to the FiCli database, with in-kind support from the USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center and the Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

This study was funded in part by the National CASC project “Fish and Climate Change (FiCli) Database: Informing climate change adaptation and management actions for freshwater fishes.

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