Susceptibility of European freshwater fish to climate change: species profiling based on life-history and environmental characteristics

Global Change Biology

Jaric, Ivan; Lennox, Robert J; Kalinkat, Gregor ; Cvijanovic, Gorcin; Radinger, Johannes;

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Climate change is expected to strongly affect freshwater fish communities. Combined with other anthropogenic impacts, the impacts will alter species distributions and contribute to population declines and local extinctions. To provide timely management and conservation of fishes, it is relevant to identify species that will be most impacted by climate change and those that will be resilient. Species traits are considered a promising source of information on characteristics that influence resilience to various environmental conditions and impacts. We collated life history traits and climatic niches of 443 European freshwater fish species and compared those identified as susceptible to climate change to those that are considered to be resilient. Significant differences were observed between the two groups in their distribution, life-history and climatic niches, with climate-change susceptible species being distributed more southwardly within Europe, and being characterized by higher threat levels, lower commercial relevance, lower vulnerability to fishing, smaller body size and warmer thermal envelopes. We establish a list of species revealed to be of highest priority for further research and monitoring regarding climate change susceptibility within Europe. The presented approach represents a promising tool, to quickly assess large groups of species regarding their susceptibility to climate change and other threats, and to identify research and management priorities.

DOI: doi:10.1101/355875