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Potential impacts of climate change on growth and prey consumption of stream‐dwelling smallmouth bass in the central United States

Pease, Allison A., Paukert, Craig P.
Ecology of freshwater fish 2014 v.23 no.3 pp. 336-346
Micropterus dolomieu, climate models, energy metabolism, fish, fisheries, food availability, global warming, habitats, streams, water temperature, Canada, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma
Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu, SMB) is a broadly distributed, economically important species in the USA and Canada. Although previous research has suggested that projected climate warming may allow SMB to thrive beyond their current northern distribution, little research has been devoted to the population‐level effects of climate change on warm‐water fishes, including SMB. We modelled the impacts of projected climate change on growth of stream‐dwelling SMB along a north–south gradient in the central USA. Using downscaled regional projections from three global climate models, we generated scenarios for thermal habitat change for four populations (in Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota) and used bioenergetics simulations to estimate prey consumption and growth under future projections. Bioenergetics simulations showed that prey consumption is expected to increase in all populations with moderate stream warming (2–3 °C). Growth potential is predicted to increase by 3–17% if not limited by food availability with stream warming by 2060 and was most pronounced for southern populations. For each 1 °C increase in stream temperature, SMB consumption would be expected to increase by about 27% and growth would increase by about 6%. Due to implications for species interactions, population performance and regulation of local fisheries, a better understanding of how SMB populations will respond to climate change is recommended for effective management and conservation.