Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Idaho trout face climate trouble, study finds

Effects on different species would vary, and even researchers hope the situation won’t be as bad as the data suggest.
When Seth Wenger and Dan Isaak release a scientific paper that predicts hard times for the West’s trout, they know a lot of people are skeptical.

“Fundamentally, skepticism is a good thing in science,” said Wenger, a fisheries researcher with Trout Unlimited in Boise.

Both Wenger and Isaak, a fisheries biologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, were a part of a team of 11 scientists who said trout habitat could drop by 50 percent over the next 70 years because of a warming world. The paper, published Monday in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat habitat could decline by 58 percent.

The two men, who have devoted their lives to scientific research, say they depend on the scientific method and peer review to judge the quality of the research that underscores their findings. The climate predictions are based on 10 of the 20 climate models developed independently worldwide that all show the world is getting warmer.

“The climate models have been right for 30 years and they are getting better all the time,” Isaak said.

The data these men have collected in the watersheds of the West shows the same trends, they said. And warmer water isn’t the only problem.

The research also shows that warmer winters are causing more winter floods that wash away the gravel that holds brook and brown trout eggs. (more)