Trout and salmon are especially vulnerable to climate change and global warming because they are dependent on an abundance of clear, cold water. As coldwater habitats warm, rising temperatures will have negative impacts on all life phases of these fish--from eggs to juveniles to adults. These fish already face pressures because of reduced habitats and population losses.
Roads, dams and other water diversions have fragmented stream habitats and remaining habitats are often degraded by mining, livestock grazing, timber harvest or other land uses. Non-native and hatchery fish are compromising gene pools. Adding climate change to these stressors increases the likelihood that fish populations will be pushed to the brink of extinction. Unless immediate action is taken to restore habitats and increase populations, it is likely that trout and salmon will be eliminated from large areas of the United States.
All is not doom and gloom: by taking a proactive approach to address the needs of trout and salmon in a changing climate, we can increase trout and salmon’s resistance and resilience to climate change.
The effects of climate change are unpredictable. Because of this, it is important to fund monitoring and tracking programs to analyze the changing fish populations and their environments.
For more on why the science team studies climate change, click here.