Climate change drives widespread shifts in lake thermal habitat

Kraemer, Benjamin M. and Pilla, Rachel M. and Woolway, R. Iestyn and Anneville, Orlane and Ban, Syuhei and Colom-Montero, William and Devlin, Shawn P. and Dokulil, Martin T. and Gaiser, Evelyn E. and Hambright, K. David and Hessen, Dag O. and Higgins, Scott N. and Jöhnk, Klaus D. and Keller, Wendel and Knoll, Lesley B. and Leavitt, Peter R. and Lepori, Fabio and Luger, Martin S. and Maberly, Stephen C. and Müller-Navarra, Dörthe C. and Paterson, Andrew M. and Pierson, Donald C. and Richardson, David C. and Rogora, Michela and Rusak, James A. and Sadro, Steven and Salmaso, Nico and Schmid, Martin and Silow, Eugene A. and Sommaruga, Ruben and Stelzer, Julio A. A. and Straile, Dietmar and Thiery, Wim and Timofeyev, Maxim A. and Verburg, Piet and Weyhenmeyer, Gesa A. and Adrian, Rita (2021) Climate change drives widespread shifts in lake thermal habitat. Nature Climate Change, 11 (6). pp. 521-529. ISSN 1758-678X

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Lake surfaces are warming worldwide, raising concerns about lake organism responses to thermal habitat changes. Species may cope with temperature increases by shifting their seasonality or their depth to track suitable thermal habitats, but these responses may be constrained by ecological interactions, life histories or limiting resources. Here we use 32 million temperature measurements from 139 lakes to quantify thermal habitat change (percentage of non-overlap) and assess how this change is exacerbated by potential habitat constraints. Long-term temperature change resulted in an average 6.2% non-overlap between thermal habitats in baseline (1978–1995) and recent (1996–2013) time periods, with non-overlap increasing to 19.4% on average when habitats were restricted by season and depth. Tropical lakes exhibited substantially higher thermal non-overlap compared with lakes at other latitudes. Lakes with high thermal habitat change coincided with those having numerous endemic species, suggesting that conservation actions should consider thermal habitat change to preserve lake biodiversity.

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