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Beer and Science: Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Fisheries


Apr 4, 2024

Outdoor recreation in the Northwoods has always played a significant role in driving the local economy, with fishing being a popular activity. The lakes and rivers in the region are home to a diverse range of fish species. Over the years, Wisconsin temperatures have increased by about 2 to 3 degrees since 1950, with projections indicating a further increase of 2 to 8 degrees in the next 25 years. As the climate changes, it is anticipated that there will be impacts on the fisheries in the area.

Holly Embke, a research fish biologist with the USGS Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, notes that there are already observable changes in the fish populations due to the warming climate. While warm-water fishes like bluegill and bass are increasing, cold-water species like walleye are facing challenges. Shifts in ice-off dates could potentially threaten walleye spawning, as indicated by a recent study. Despite the changes, Embke emphasizes that there is still hope for the future of fisheries.

Embke focuses on identifying struggling fish populations and determining ways to help them adapt to the changing climate. This may involve habitat restoration efforts or supporting other fish species that are more likely to thrive in the new conditions. The goal is to ensure that fisheries remain healthy and productive in the face of climate change.

Embke will be discussing these challenges and the importance of inland fisheries at the upcoming Science on Tap Minocqua event on Thursday, April 4. The event will be held at Rocky Reef Brewing Company in Woodruff starting at 6:30 p.m. For those unable to attend in person, the event will also be available for streaming online. The presentation aims to provide attendees with a better understanding of the potential changes in fish communities due to climate change, while also highlighting opportunities to support and protect aquatic ecosystems.

By editor

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