For Trout Fishermen, Climate Change Will Mean More Driving Time, Less Angling

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A study by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences fisheries researchers clearly explains the impact of projected warming waters on wild brook trout in the eastern U.S. for fishermen.

Brook trout in clear stream water

Brook trout - Credit: Tyler Wagner, USGS

(Public domain.)

When trying to explain the potential effects of climate change on plants, fish and wildlife, scientists usually resort to language that fails to convey the impact of warming. Now, a study by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences fisheries researchers clearly explains the impact of projected warming waters on wild brook trout in the eastern U.S. for fishermen.

The eastern brook trout is a socially and economically important fish that occurs in small cold-water streams and lakes, and self-sustaining populations support angling throughout the Appalachian Mountains, from Maine to Georgia. However, warming air temperatures are expected to reduce available cold-water habitat and result in a smaller brook trout distribution and fewer angling opportunities.

Building on recent research at Penn State, Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology and Tyrell DeWeber, now a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University, used two models they previously developed, one predicting stream temperature and one predicting where brook trout might occur, to identify streams likely to support wild brook trout under current and future climate scenarios.

The researchers then calculated the distance required to drive from the centers of 23 cities spread throughout the eastern brook trout range to the 10 nearest stream segments likely to have wild brook trout under current and future conditions. They published their study in a recent issue of Fisheries.

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This research was funded by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.