Lakes and streams are warming with negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Much is known about the warming of streams and rivers due to broad-scale modeling efforts and the existence of stream temperature monitoring networks. No such data existed for the state of lakes, save for a few well-studied systems until this study. This project assembled a team of lake modelers, aquatic ecologists, fisheries biologists, and data scientists in order to fill this knowledge gap by reconstructing the modern temperature record in Midwestern lakes (1979- 2015). These data were then used to explain declines in important native fish and project future changes that will enable managers to prioritize resilient lakes.
In addition to contributing to our understanding of changing lake dynamics by developing research methods to model changes in 10,000 Midwestern lakes, and pairing these findings with projected impacts on critical sport fish populations (walleye and largemouth bass), the team also generated an interactive website for the general public. This tool, which conveys the complexities of fisheries patterns with a changing climate, was the subject of the prestigious USGS Shoemaker Award for excellence in communications.