Science to action: decision-support to advance stream trout management in a changing climate


Andrew K. Carlson, William W. Taylor, Zeenatul Basher, T. Douglas Beard, Jr., Dana M. Infante 

Journal or Book Title: Proceedings of the Wild Trout XII Symposium

Volume/Issue: 12

Page Number(s): 85-92

Year Published: 2018


Projected increases in coldwater stream temperatures resulting from predicted air temperature warming over the next 50 years are cause for concern among fisheries professionals that manage Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). We collaborated with Michigan fisheries professionals to coproduce a decision-support tool to facilitate management decision-making in 52 trout streams amid climatic changes. The tool ranks streams based on manager-defined stream criteria (e.g., current and projected 2056 temperature, groundwater contribution, trout relative abundance, watershed and riparian land cover), enabling fisheries professionals to make ecologically, socioeconomically robust management decisions that promote thermally resilient streams and trout populations. Stream ranking using all criteria indicated that certain recreationally significant fisheries (e.g., Muskegon River) will experience warming that may cause them to become less important for trout management. However, lesser-known fisheries (e.g., Davenport Creek) were projected to become more thermally suitable and important for trout management. With this information available, managers can anticipate future thermal, hydrological, and biological conditions in streams and thereby make informed, resilience-based management decisions to sustain trout fisheries. Our research demonstrates the utility of synthesizing multiple information sources to facilitate efficient, effective decision-making amid complex fisheries management environments in a changing climate.