The distribution of brook trout, which requires cold water for survival, could shrink by 60 percent in some Wisconsin streams by mid-century, according to recent climate change models for the Great Lakes region.
Loss of suitable freshwater habitat for brook trout and other popular sport fish species due to climate change are likely to have economic implications for the Great Lakes system.
Recreational fishing opportunities in the region contribute to a multi-billion dollar tourism and recreation industry.
Climate change models for the Great Lakes system are being made by researchers with U.S. Geological Survey, alongside Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan Institute of Fisheries Research, and Michigan State University.
Researchers hope to predict the potential impacts of increasing air temperatures and changes in precipitation on water temperature and flow in freshwater streams that are part of the Great Lakes system.
The models project future distributions for 14 fish species based on known fish locations, their habitat preferences, their adaptability to different water temperatures, existing and future stream conditions, and projected climatic changes.