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Completed Project: Evaluating the effects of climate change and land use on fisheries production in inland lakes

Yu-Chun Kao, David Bunnell, Mark Rodgers (USGS), Lars Rudstam, Randy Jackson, and 24 collaborators across the globe (Funding from USGS)

We are evaluating the effects of climate change and land use on inland fisheries by analyzing time series of fisheries harvests in inland lakes across the globe. Tracking large-scale landscape changes (e.g., land use) as well as annual changes (e.g., water levels that can drive recruitment and fishing access) on a lake-by-lake basis can help inform how long-term trends may influence fisheries. One challenge of analyzing longer time series on a relatively small number of inland lakes is the generality of these results to the millions of inland lakes of the world. Hence, we confront this issue by categorizing lakes based on their depth and vulnerability to food and water security. Previous studies have shown that lake depth is one of the most important factors affecting fisheries production in response to climate change. For example, decreases in lake levels caused by climate change may have strong effects on fisheries production in shallow lakes, potentially via decreased access or littoral area, but not in deep lakes. In addition, regions of the world can be grouped based on their vulnerability to food security and water security, which are important indicators of anthropogenic stressors on lake ecosystems. Thus, land use and climate changes should have disproportionately stronger effects on fisheries production in lakes in regions of higher levels of food and/or water security threat, as these lakes commonly have been stressed by water deficit, pollution, and overfishing.  The results are in press in Nature Communications.