SAFS in the News: Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior

SAFS post-doc Rachel Hovel and SAFS professor Tom Quinn are featured in UW Today:

‘One of Alaska’s most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change. This could impact the ecology of northern lakes, which already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.

That’s the main finding of a recent University of Washington study published in Global Change Biology that analyzed reproductive patterns of three-spine stickleback fish over half a century in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. The data show that stickleback breed earlier and more often each season in response to earlier spring ice breakup and longer ice-free summers.

While several papers have speculated that conditions brought on by a warming climate may allow animals to breed more often in a single year, this has only been empirically shown in insects. This study is the first to document multiple breeding cycles for fish in a single season due to climate change, said lead author Rachel Hovel, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.’

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