Can fisheries bioenergetics modelling refine spatially explicit assessments of climate change vulnerability? Academic Article uri icon


  • Rising water temperature under climate change is affecting the physiology, population dynamics and geographic distribution of freshwater taxa. We propose a novel application of individual-based bioenergetics modelling (BEM) to assess the physiological impacts of warming on freshwater fishes across broad spatial extents. We test this approach using the Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculii), a species of conservation and recreational significance that is endemic to central TX, USA. We projected historical-to-future changes (middle 20th century to end of 21st century) in daily bioenergetics of individual fish across 7872 stream reaches and compared this output to changes in reach occupancy derived from traditional species distribution modelling (SDM). SDMs project an 8.7% to 52.1% decrease in reach occupancy, depending on model parameterizations and climate change scenarios. Persistence is projected in the central Edwards Plateau region, whereas extirpations are projected for the warmer southeastern region. BEM projected a median 79.3% and 143.2% increase in somatic growth of age-1 Guadalupe bass across historically occupied reaches under moderate and severe climate change scenarios, respectively. Higher end-of-year body size under future climate was caused by a longer growing season. Future scenarios exploring suppressed or enhanced prey consumption suggest that small changes in prey availability will have relatively greater effects on growth than forecasted changes in temperature. Projected growth was geographically discordant with SDM-based habitat suitability, suggesting that SDMs do not accurately reflect fundamental thermal niche dimensions. Our assessment suggests that for locations where the species persists, Guadalupe bass may benefit from warming, although realized consumption gains will depend on seasonal, spatially varying changes in prey availability and other biotic and abiotic factors. More generally, we demonstrate that uniting species-specific BEM with spatially explicit climate change projections can elucidate the physiological impacts of climate change-including seasonal variation-on freshwater fishes across broad geographic extents to complement traditional SDM.

published proceedings

  • Conserv Physiol

altmetric score

  • 5.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Troia, M. J., & Perkin, J. S.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Troia, Matthew J||Perkin, Joshuah S

editor list (cited editors)

  • Cooke, S.

publication date

  • January 2022