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Modeling the Effects of Climate Change on Fish Populations, Distribution, Movements, and Survival in Large Rivers

Dr. Martha Mather
Dr. Donna Parrish
Dr. Elizabeth Marschall

Project Supervisor
Dr. Donna Parrish

Kansas State University
Expected Completion
April 2018

Large US Rivers associated with NE US Climate Center (and also includes tallgrass prairie, KS)

Model the effects of climate change on mobile fish in rivers
Progress and Results
Mobile organisms including native fish, fish predators, and anadromous fish may be affected by climate change through several mechanisms. These include increased water temperature and altered discharge patterns. Anthropogenic impacts, especially fragmentation by dams, can exacerbate these effects by preventing, delaying, or otherwise altering distribution and movement. In this project, we use a series of individual based and statistical models to understand the relationships among water temperature, discharge, dams, and fish distribution, movement, and survival. Although previously this research has focused on anadromous fish (salmon, shad) in large NE US rivers, the methods and insights have relevance to motile organisms in other stream networks where temperature and discharge are changing with climate. This work is especially relevant to river systems in Kansas that are fragmented by dams.

In previous work, we modeled survival of Atlantic salmon smolts in the Connecticut River. We continue to take a modeling approach using fish life history (e.g., spawning behavior, thermal preferences, and habitat) and existing temperature and discharge data sets for different species in different river systems. Results should be applicable to mobile fish in large and small Great Plains rivers as well as elsewhere in the United States.


Marschall, E. A., M. E. Mather, D. L. Parrish, G. W. Allison,. J. McMenemy. 2011. Migration delays caused by anthropogenic barriers: dams, temperature, and success of migrating salmon smolts. Ecological Applications, 21: 3014-3031.

Mather, M.E., E.A. Marschall, and D.L. Parrish. Predicting interactive effects of climate change and dams on success of downstream-migrating salmon. Fish and Climate Change, The Fisheries Society of the British Isles Annual Symposium, Belfast, UK.