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Fish ear stones offer climate change clues in Alaska's lakes

May 20, 2022

Otoliths, also known as ear stones, are small body parts that help fish with hearing and balance. Like tree rings, otoliths form one light and one dark band per year, creating rings. These rings can be measured to understand fish growth. The wider the ring, the greater the growth. In our study, we used otoliths to understand how one fish species—lake trout—responds to rising temperature in the state of Alaska. We found that warmer spring air temperature and earlier lake ice melt were related to faster lake trout growth. This finding is consistent with other studies that link warmer water temperature and earlier lake ice melt to increased plankton in Alaska’s lakes. Together, these findings suggest that climate-driven increases at the bottom of the food web might benefit top predators like lake trout. However, the relationship between warmer temperature and faster growth may not last.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Fish ear stones offer climate change clues in Alaska's lakes
DOI 10.3389/frym.2022.726495
Authors Krista K. Bartz, Vanessa R. von Biela, Bryan A. Black, Daniel B. Young, Peter van der Sleen, Christian E. Zimmerman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers for Young Minds
Series Number
Index ID 70231681
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Water