An assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on freshwater habitats and biota of Indiana, USA

Abstract

Recent climate-driven, physico-chemical changes documented in aquatic systems throughout the world are expected to intensify in the future. Specifically, changes in key environmental attributes of aquatic systems, such as water quantity, clarity, temperatures, ice cover, seasonal flow regimes, external loading, and oxygen content, will undoubtedly have a broad set of direct and indirect ecological consequences. Some anticipated impacts may be similar across different aquatic ecosystems, while others may be system-specific. Here, we review the potential effects of climatic changes for different freshwater habitats within the state of Indiana, USA, a Midwestern state with diverse land and water features. Given this heterogeneity and that the state is among the southernmost states of the US Midwest, evaluation of freshwater habitats of Indiana provides a useful perspective on potential impacts of climate change. In our study, we first review expected or anticipated changes to physico-chemical and habitat conditions in wetlands, lotic systems, small glacial lakes and Lake Michigan. We then highlight anticipated responses of select aquatic biota to these changes. We describe how climatic changes may interact with other anthropogenic stressors affecting freshwater habitats and consider the potential for evolutionary adaptation of freshwater aquatic organisms to mediate any responses. Given anticipated changes, we suggest aquatic ecosystem managers take a precautionary approach broadly applicable in temperate regions to (a) conserve a diversity of aquatic habitats, (b) enhance species diversity and both inter- and intra-population genetic variation, and (c) limit stressors which may exacerbate the risk of decline for aquatic biota.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is a contribution to the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (INCCIA).

Funding

The INCCIA is organized and financially supported by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.

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All authors contributed to overall report structure, drafted individual sections, and edited the entire manuscript. Höök and Foley assembled individual author contributions and organized the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tomas O. Höök.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “The Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment” edited by Jeffrey Dukes, Melissa Widhalm, Daniel Vimont, and Linda Prokopy

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Höök, T.O., Foley, C.J., Collingsworth, P. et al. An assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on freshwater habitats and biota of Indiana, USA. Climatic Change 163, 1897–1916 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02502-w

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