The smallmouth bass (SMB) is a widespread species with a distribution that extends throughout the eastern and central U.S., in addition to introduced populations in other regions. From a management perspective, the SMB is important both as a popular sport fish and as a threat to native species where it is present outside of its natural range. Understanding the population-level responses of this species to environmental change is thus a priority for fisheries resource managers. This project aimed to explicitly model the impacts of projected climate and land use change on the growth, population dynamics, and distribution of stream-dwelling SMB in the U.S. Impacts on growth and demographic variables were modeled using data from multiple populations across the SMB native range in order to examine and account for intraspecific differences and local adaptation. The specific goals of this project were to (1) estimate changes in thermal habitat due to predicted climate change for four stream-dwelling SMB populations, and (2) project changes in somatic growth and prey consumption for the focal SMB populations based on bioenergetics simulations and predicted stream temperature changes. By examining mechanistically the population-level impacts of projected climate and land use change and incorporating them into models of potential changes in distribution, we built upon previous efforts and provide valuable information for the conservation and management of SMB in the U.S.
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“Smallmouth bass - Credit: Gretchen Hansen”