Research Fisheries Biologist/Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow
Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Glacier Field Station
West Glacier, MT
Title: Direct, indirect, and cryptic consequences of climate change for cold-water fish
Biologists have become increasingly concerned about the realized and potential effects of climate change on biodiversity. Although climate change can influence species through various pathways, most research focuses on the direct effects of climate change. This is particularly true for freshwater fish, where the vast majority of research focuses on how future temperature increases may influence species distributions by altering thermal habitat. Nevertheless, climate change can also influence species through indirect (e.g., climate-facilitated invasive species expansions) and cryptic (e.g., adaptive and maladaptive evolution) mechanisms. We use ongoing trout research as a case study that clearly demonstrates the direct, indirect, and cryptic consequences of climate change for cold-water fish. Although direct effects are important, we show that indirect and cryptic effects of climate change can be more acute and pervasive. Thus, focusing on temperature driven changes in species distributions may ignore the more nefarious ways that climate change influences biodiversity, and worse, may result in failed opportunities for proactive management and conservation action. Overall, integrative climate change research that works across biological, environmental, and climatic scales is rare, but increasingly needed if we hope to predict the future impacts of climate change on freshwater fish.
Bio: Ryan is an Mendenhall Research Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey and is based in Missoula Montana. He completed post doctoral work at the University of Montana and obtained his PhD at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where his research focused on the potential for rapid adaptive evolution to keep pace with ongoing climate change. He strives to conduct applied research that also addresses basic scientific questions, and is particularly excited about the ecological and conservation implications of contemporary evolution in all its many forms.