Predicted smallmouth bass growth rate potential declines at southern range extent due to climate changes

Role of Geodata Crawler:
GeodataCrawler was used to determine habitat characteristics for each site, such as canopy cover, spring density, and various landscape scale habitat characteristics such as % forest and agriculture in the watershed.

Kessinger B, Middaugh C, Magoulick D. 2015. The projected effects of climate change on smallmouth bass growth rate potential in the Ozark Highlands. Report submitted for NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at University of Arkansas.

Funding Source:
Doctoral Academy Fellowship, University of Arkansas Graduate School
REU program, National Science Foundation

Contribution to Education:
Ph.D. dissertation chapter by Christopher Middaugh at the University of Arkansas.
Research Experience for Undergraduates final project for Brin Kessinger

Temperature increases due to climate change over the coming century will likely affect smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) growth in lotic systems in the Ozark-Ouachita Interior Highlands, at the southern extent of their native range. However, the flow regime of each stream could affect the thermal response of the stream to warming climate conditions, mitigating the effects on smallmouth bass populations. We developed bioenergetics models to compare change in smallmouth bass growth rate potential (GRP) from present to future projected stream temperatures across two flow regimes, runoff and groundwater. The models were developed for fifteen streams within the Ozark-Ouachita Interior Highlands in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, USA which contain smallmouth bass. In our simulations, smallmouth bass mean GRP during summer months decreased by 49% in runoff streams and 19.6% in groundwater streams by end of century. Mean GRP during winter, fall, and early spring increased under future climate conditions. The change in mean seasonal GRP from present to future climate conditions was related to stream characteristics using a regression tree analysis. We found that stream flow classification and latitude were the most influential predictor variables of change in GRP among streams. Flow regime is an important habitat component to consider when investigating potential effects of climate change as fishes across flow regimes could respond differentially to the effects of warming climate conditions.

Professional Presentations:
2015 National American Fisheries Society Conference, Portland, Oregon
2015 Missouri/Arkansas White River Cooperators Meeting, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
2015 Research Experience for Undergraduate Completion Presentation, Fayetteville, Arkansas
2015 Arkansas Water Resources Conference, Fayetteville, Arkansas