Climate change is expected to alter the distributions and community composition of stream fishes in the Great Lakes region in the 21st century, in part as a result of altered hydrological systems (stream temperature, streamflow, and habitat). Resource managers need information and tools to understand where fish species and stream habitats are expected to change under future conditions. Fish sample collections and environmental variables from multiple sources across the United States Great Lakes Basin were integrated and used to develop empirical models to predict fish species occurrence under present-day climate conditions. Random Forests models were used to predict the probability of occurrence of 13 lotic fish species within each stream reach in the study area. Then downscaled climate data from general circulation models were integrated with the fish species occurrence models to project fish species occurrence under future climate conditions. The 13 fish species represented three ecological guilds associated with water temperature (cold, cool, and warm), and the species were distributed in streams across the Great Lakes region. Vulnerability (loss of species) and opportunity (gain of species) scores were calculated for all stream reaches by evaluating changes in fish species occurrence from present-day to future climate conditions. The 13 fish species included 4 cold-water species, 5 cool-water species, and 4 warm-water species. Presently, the 4 cold-water species occupy from 15 percent (55,000 kilometers [km]) to 35 percent (130,000 km) of the total stream length (369,215 km) across the study area; the 5 cool-water species, from 9 percent (33,000 km) to 58 percent (215,000 km); and the 4 warm-water species, from 9 percent (33,000 km) to 38 percent (141,000 km).
Fish models linked to projections from 13 downscaled climate models projected that in the mid to late 21st century (2046–65 and 2081–2100, respectively) habitats suitable for all 4 cold-water species and 4 of 5 cool-water species under present-day conditions will decline as much as 86 percent and as little as 33 percent, and habitats suitable for all 4 warm-water species will increase as much as 33 percent and as little as 7 percent. This report documents the approach and data used to predict and project fish species occurrence under present-day and future climate conditions for 13 lotic fish species in the United States Great Lakes Basin. A web-based decision support mapping application termed “FishVis” was developed to provide a means to integrate, visualize, query, and download the results of these projected climate-driven responses and help inform conservation planning efforts within the region.
Welcome to FishVis!
Fish distribution and community composition in streams are expected to change based on altered thermal and/or hydrologic characteristics of surface and groundwater resources resulting from climate change. FishVis was developed to help you visualize, search, and download these potential climate-driven responses for 13 fish species in streams across the Great Lakes region.
You can use FishVis to:
The FishVis Mapper is the product of an Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative project, “A Regional Decision Support Tool for Identifying Vulnerabilities of Riverine Habitat and Fishes to Climate Change”. The goal of this project was to develop an approach for predicting fish species occurrence under current climate conditions and project how fish species occurrence may change under future climate conditions.
Modeling fish species occurrence under current and future conditions required six input types of input data sets: landscape characteristics, stream temperature and flow estimates from statistical models, fish sample collections from State natural resource agencies, climate time-series from meteorological stations, and climate time-series from downscaled general circulation models. The 1:100,000 scale National Hydrography Data Plus Version 1 served as the common environmental spatial framework to which all landscape, physical, and biological data were attributed. The vulnerability (loss) of fish species to climate change was evaluated by comparing predicted species occurrence under current conditions to projected fish species occurrence under future climate conditions for 13 climate models and 13 fish species. Results from FishVis analyses can be viewed for the individual stream reach and catchment or summarized at the hydrologic unit scale.
What species were modeled?
Thermal Class – Cold
Thermal Class – Cool
Thermal Class – Warm
The results presented here are not predictions of what will happen in the future so much as they are representations of what might happen given a set of assumptions about future energy development and use.
The FishVis web-based decision support mapping application was developed by the USGS Wisconsin Internet Mapping (WiM) team. Support for this project was provided by the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with Michigan State University, Michigan Institute of Fisheries Research, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Additional support for this project was provided by the USGS National GAP Analysis Program, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Project F-95-P (studies SSMP and SSCN), the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, and the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
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