Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Utah
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Utah Project

NSF: An exploration of the direct and indirect effects of climatic warming on arctic lake ecosystems.

July 2016 - June 2023


Participating Agencies

  • National Science Foundation: Arctic Natural Science
Arctic Lake named Fog1 on the north side of the Brooks Mnts, AK. This lake is being experimentally "warmed' to mimic rapid Arctic climate warming, and researchers are monitoring all aspects of the lake ecosystem from microbes to fishes and physiochemical processes.  The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and is a collaborative project to the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research Site.

Arctic lakes support trophic interactions, biological processes, and critical habitat at all trophic levels; however, climatic warming threatens to alter the structure and function of aquatic communities and overall system production. Arctic ecosystems are warming at some of the fastest rates observed on earth, and arctic lakes are experiencing more frequent years of warmer surface water and deeper mixing. However, the ability to detect and quantify ecosystem effects and specific biological responses (e.g. bacterial diversity, invertebrate production, fish growth) to these climatic changes has been primarily limited to non-mechanistic modeled scenarios and observational studies in uncontrolled environments. The proposed research will use a controlled whole-lake manipulation experiment to answer: How will warmer lake temperatures and extended growing season alter (1) lake ice coverage and annual thermal regime, (2) abundance, activity and diversity of primary and secondary producers, (3) fish vital rates and dynamics, and (4) degree of carry-over across growing seasons and cumulative effects on ecosystem production. The project is a collaboration of researchers across multiple academic entities including Oregon State University and the Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole, MA. This research will quantify lake thermal processes and lake-atmosphere feedbacks, provide more precise projections of lake horizontal and vertical temperature structures, and document and
predict lake biota and ecosystem responses to lake thermal condition changes under different climate scenarios. By providing some of the first empirical evidence of how fundamental processes will actually change in the face of climate change, this research will also improve understanding of ecosystem service sustainability (e.g., subsistence fisheries).

Research Publications Publication Date
Pennock, C.A., P. Budy, and N. Barrett. 2021. Effects of increased temperature on arctic fish is mediated by food availability: Implications for climate change. Freshwater Biology 66:549-561. DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13659. USGS FSP ID-121940.

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March 2021
Presentations Presentation Date
Barrett, N., P. Budy. 2019. A Slimy Situation: Effects of temperature & food availability on the performance of Slimy Sculpin (Cottus cognatus), an important mid-level consumer in arctic lakes. Oral Presentation: Annual Meeting of the Utah Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Provo, Utah, 12 – 14 March 2019. March 2019
Barrett, N., P. Budy. 2019. Supply and demand: Evaluating the independent and interactive effects of temperature & food availability on the performance of a mid-level consumer within arctic lakes. Oral Presentation: Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Sciences, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 19-23 2019. May 2019
Barrett, N., S. Brothers, and P. Budy. 2018. Warming up the waters in Arctic lakes: Implications from individuals to ecosystems. Oral presentation at the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting, Anchorage, AK. 21-25 May 2018. May 2018
Barrett, N., S. Brothers, and P. Budy. 2018. Warming up the waters: Implications from individuals to ecosystems. Poster presentation at the Utah Chapter of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting, Ogden, Utah. 13-15 March 2018. March 2018
Budy, P. , A. Giblin, G. Kling, D. White, and C. Luecke. 2018. Understanding the indirect effects of climate change on pristine arctic lakes and char; delayed, multi-trophic level response to a long-term, low-level fertilization experiment. Oral Presentation. Annual Meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society, May 22-25, 2018, Anchorage, AK, USA. May 2018
Budy, P. G.P. Thiede, A. Giblin, A. Messenger, G. Kling, B. Crump, and N.R Christman. 2020. Evaluating the impact of a warmer climate on the aquatic ecology and fish of arctic lakes
via thermokarst disturbance. Western Division, American Fisheries Society Conference, Vancouver, B.C. , Canada. April 13-16, 2020.
The climate is changing faster in arctic Alaska than anywhere else on earth, and warming temperatures are having both direct and indirect effects on lakes and their biota.
April 2020
Budy, P., C. Luecke, and G.P. Thiede. 2011. Resources allocation among arctic char in closed arctic lakes: implications for population structure and regulation. Poster Presentation. American Fisheries Society, National Meeting, August 19-23, 2012, Minneapolis, MN. August 2012