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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Climate Change and Loss of Tributary Connections in the World's Great Lakes”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | 11:30 am
Pete McIntyre
University of Wisconsin- Madison
As a new PI within the NECSC team, I will introduce some of my interests in how climate changes has and will affect lakes.  In Africa, we have been studying Lake Tanganyika for almost 20 years, and our latest results suggest that shifts in physical mixing of the lake may undercut the productivity of the critical subsistence fishery there.  A broader survey of a few dozen lakes suggests that increased stability is a major consequence of warming in most lakes.  Addressing a few hundred lakes, I am part of a large team that has found that warming in lakes worldwide often exceeds warming rates in the air, yet certain lakes are also cooling.  We find that the North American Great Lakes region is a hotspot of consistent warming, but similarity of warming rates across lakes is low in most other regions.  Within the North American Great Lakes, much of our work now focuses on a different stressor: loss of migratory pathways for lake fish that need to spawn in tributary rivers.  Our field work shows that loss of these connections reduces the productivity of stream ecosystems.  Our landscape analysis shows that roughly 104,000 barriers inhibit migrations of Great Lakes fishes, and we have developed optimization models to advise decision makers about which barrier removal projects can maximize restoration of access to historic spawning grounds.  An online decision support tool makes these data easily accessible, and provides ready access to our optimization models.  I will conclude by discussing several priorities for NECSC research in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region for the coming years.
Pete McIntyre is a lifelong fisherman and nature lover. He is with the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He received his B.S. from Harvard, Ph.D. from Cornell, did a Post-doc at Wright State University and University of Michigan, and has been Assistant Professor since 2010 at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He has active field projects in Great Lakes, Hawaii, Tanzania, and Thailand.  Pete is the newest Northeast Climate Science Center Principal Investigator, representing the University of Wisconsin consortium institution.