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Forecasting the combined effects of anticipated climate change and agricultural conservation practices on fish recruitment dynamics in Lake Erie

May 13, 2020
  1. Many aquatic ecosystems are experiencing multiple anthropogenic stressors that threaten their ability to support ecologically and economically important fish species. Two of the most ubiquitous stressors are climate change and non‐point source nutrient pollution.
  2. Agricultural conservation practices (ACPs, i.e. farming practices that reduce runoff, prevent erosion, and curb excessive nutrient loading) offer a potential means to mitigate the negative effects of non‐point source pollution on fish populations. However, our understanding of how ACP implementation amidst a changing climate will affect fish production in large ecosystems that receive substantial upstream sediment and nutrient inputs remains incomplete.
  3. Towards this end, we explored how anticipated climate change and the implementation of realistic ACPs might alter the recruitment dynamics of three fish populations (native walleye Sander vitreus and yellow perch Perca flavescens and invasive white perch Morone americana) in the highly productive, dynamic west basin of Lake Erie. We projected future (2020–2065) recruitment under different combinations of anticipated climate change (n = 2 levels) and ACP implementation (n = 4 levels) in the western Lake Erie catchment using predictive biological models driven by forecasted winter severity, spring warming rate, and Maumee River total phosphorus loads that were generated from linked climate, catchment‐hydrology, and agricultural‐practice‐simulation models.
  4. In general, our models projected reduced walleye and yellow perch recruitment whereas invasive white perch recruitment was projected to remain stable or increase relative to the recent past. Our modelling also suggests the potential for trade‐offs, as ACP implementation was projected to reduce yellow perch recruitment with anticipated climate change.
  5. Overall, our study presents a useful modelling framework to forecast fish recruitment in Lake Erie and elsewhere, as well as offering projections and new avenues of research that could help resource management agencies and policy‐makers develop adaptive and resilient management strategies in the face of anticipated climate and land‐management change.
Publication Year 2020
Title Forecasting the combined effects of anticipated climate change and agricultural conservation practices on fish recruitment dynamics in Lake Erie
DOI 10.1111/fwb.13515
Authors David A Dippold, Noel Aloysis, S. Conor Keitzer, Haw Yen, Jeffrey G. Arnold, Prasad Daggupati, Michael E. Fraker, Jay F. Martin, Dale M. Robertson, Scott P. Sowa, Mari-Vaughn V. Johnson, Mike J. White, Stuart A. Ludsin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Freshwater Biology
Index ID 70218691
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center