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

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Walleye fisheries bright spots in a changing climate

January 2022 - December 2026


Participating Agencies

  • Climate Adaptation Science Center

Habitat loss, pollution, species introductions, and overfishing have impacted inland fisheries for decades. The impact of climate change threatens to compound these other factors. Our proposed work focuses on walleye fisheries of inland lakes of the Upper Great Lakes region, which have been declining since the early 2000s. Rather than the usual focus on understanding walleye population declines, our research emphasizes ‘bright spots’ - fisheries success stories. We seek to understand the drivers associated with fisheries that perform far better than expectations (‘bright’ fisheries). We will combine a suite of different approaches to provide new insights into walleye fishery bright spots: an ongoing whole-lake experimental removal of basses and sunfishes, observational studies of thermal-optical habitat use, a synthesis of how walleye fisheries responded to management restoration efforts, and a statistical analysis aimed at detecting walleye fishery bright spots. Members of the research team will work in partnership with state (MI, MN, WI) and tribal (GLIFWIC) biologists. Combining the results of these multiple approaches will yield new insights in what makes for a successful walleye fishery, and will generate knowledge that will inform climate-smart fisheries management given that already-stressed fisheries are increasingly subject to a rapidly changing climate.