From: Lakehead University
Published September 7, 2017 08:02 AM

Lake Trout adjust their behaviour in the face of a changing climate

Canadian scientists have discovered that certain lake predators are altering their behaviour due to climate change, revealing what the future may hold for these fish and their food.

For years scientists told tales of fish such as Lake Trout adapting their feeding behaviour as temperatures change, but no empirical evidence existed. Now, a recently completed 11-year study at IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) in northwestern Ontario reveals that Lake Trout have a remarkable ability to adjust their behaviour in the face of changing water temperatures.

“These findings are important for understanding how Lake Trout and other temperature-sensitive fish will respond to climate change,” said Matthew Guzzo, a PhD candidate in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Biological Sciences and lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Lake Trout are reacting rapidly to changes in water temperature. As soon as the water became too warm, the fish left the shallow, more productive water, and went to the deep part of the lake where the food is of lower quality. And when a top predator is forced to change what it eats, it impacts not only its own well-being, but the whole food web.”

Guzzo and co-authors Paul Blanchfield, Research Scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Michael Rennie, Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries at Lakehead University, found that changes in water temperatures, not food availability, guide the Lake Trout’s movements. This fact comes with complex repercussions.


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Photo via Lakehead University.

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