Various species of trout run rampant throughout the Northern Rockies, but changes in streamflow and water temperatures, some of the results of anthropogenic climate change, stand to alter that.
On Thursday, Dr. Clint Muhlfeld, research aquatic ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center and an associate research professor at the University of Montana, will dive into how “changes in those regimes have affected species’ distribution, abundance, genetic diversity, phenology and biodiversity within these mountain landscapes,” he said.
Muhlfeld will present his own research at 6 p.m. in Zoom a presentation, titled “Trout in a Changing Climate,” offered through Teton County Library.
Muhlfeld’s research is centered on studying the response of freshwater fish ecosystems to climate change-caused habitat loss. He specializes in the northern Rocky Mountains’ native salmonids. In addition to teaching at the University of Montana, Muhlfeld is also the national coordinator of the USGS Ecological Drought and Climate Change Research Program and was the USGS National Fisheries Program manager.
Aquatic ecosystems have incredible ecological and social importance within the greater Yellowstone area, so Muhlfeld believes it’s critical to understand how drastic changes within these habitats will profoundly transform the fabric of Rocky Mountain communities.
Driven by the melting glaciers in Glacier National Park, Muhlfeld has centered his research in the northernmost part of the country, studying how the loss of glaciers and snowpack has hurt rare aquatic invertebrates.
“Aquatic organisms are keyed into all of that for their growth, survival and persistence,” Muhlfeld said.
Muhlfeld’s presentation will also highlight how climate change’s interaction with human stressors puts even more pressure on the Greater Yellowstone Area’s trout ecosystem — a habitat brimming with fish native to the region for the past 1,000 or so years.
“I want to present what we know about past, current and future impacts of climate change on Rocky Mountain freshwater ecosystems and the species that live in them,” Muhlfeld said.
After setting this scene, Muhlfeld plans on discussing the socioeconomic consequences of climate change, explaining how local economies and fishing opportunities will be affected by trout ecosystems responding to climate stressors.
“There’s a bunch of managers and researchers convening in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to identify what they know about climate change and what measures might be needed to improve resiliency for adaptation under climate change,” he said. “So, I’ll show some of my work — our research using empirical data — and how we’re using it to inform conservation and management across the Rocky Mountain region.”
Muhlfeld will touch upon efforts being made by conservationists and avid fishers alike to reclaim these ecosystems for native trout.
“The most rewarding thing for me is conducting research that directly informs conservation and management of these Rocky Mountain ecosystems,” Mulhfeld said. “For me, science is really important to understand how these systems are changing and what we can do to protect, restore and conserve them for future generations.”
Information about Muhlfeld and “Trout in a Changing Climate” is available at TCLib.org. The meeting ID for the Zoom event is 856 1467 1743. ￼