Climate Change and Trout

Science Center Objects

Cold-water fishes like trout, salmon, and charr are especially vulnerable to shifting conditions related to climate change; for example, warmer temperatures and more variable hydroclimate. Native cutthroat trout of the southern Rocky Mountains now only occupy a tiny fraction of their historic habitats because of stressors such as non-native fishes, habitat fragmentation, and detrimental land management practices.

Using a combination of field and modeling approaches, we address how climate may influence native cutthroat trout and how conservation strategies can be tailored in a climate-smart approach to maximize conservation benefits under recent and projected climate conditions. Our research includes modeling surface temperatures for mountain lakes, and examining how altered thermal and hydrologic regimes affect critical life history events, such as spawning migrations. Ultimately, we will integrate these ecological patterns into state-of-the-art decision support models and use these models as tools to aid in the conservation of native cutthroat trout populations.