As species adapt to a warming climate, ecosystems change
To mitigate the trend and support conservation efforts, scientists at the University of Toronto (UT) are sharing a way to predict which plants or animals may be vulnerable to the arrival of a new species.
The researchers looked specifically at the impact of several species of bass, fish that prefer warm water and have expanded their range northward over the past 30 years as temperatures have increased. They looked at both historical and recent data for 30 different fish species in more than 1500 lakes throughout Ontario. In most cases, they found bass and smaller fish species did not share the lake for long the bass wiped out vulnerable fish species in relatively short order, in part by taking a share of the food available and in part by predation.
"We found that prized sportfish, such as Brook trout and the smaller fish that trout eat, are disappearing from lakes where species of Bass have expanded their habitats," said Karen Alofs, a postdoctoral researcher working with ecologist and conservation biologist Donald Jackson in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UT.
In addition, University of Toronto ecologists found these species existence threatened by predators whose range of habitats are expanding northward due to climate change.