Date of this Version
Ecological Indicators 112 (2020) 106130
Somatic growth patterns among animal populations are maintained through complex processes that vary among ecosystems. Changes in growth patterns may be concomitant with changes in climate; however, understanding how growth will manifest among ecosystems is limited. Information embedded within fish hard-parts (i.e., otoliths, spines, vertebrae) can account for variation in growth patterns resulting from changing climate conditions. Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus is a freshwater fish species widely distributed across North America with limited information regarding climate influences on growth and differences in climate-growth relations among ecological systems. We assessed growth (total length) response to changing climate conditions for channel catfish among three waterbody types—pit lakes, irrigation and power-generation reservoirs, and flood-control reservoirs in Nebraska, USA. We used linear mixed-effect models and an information theoretic approach to assess the relative strengths among competing hypotheses. The most supported linear mixed-effect model of channel catfish growth was a function of fish age and an interaction between waterbody type and growingdegree- day (GDD). A positive trend existed in GDD from 1990 through 2008 whereby the predicted increase in GDD among waterbody types ranged from 182 GDD to 189 GDD. The predicted change in channel catfish growth resulting from increased GDD ranged from 1% to 39% among waterbody types. Channel catfish population rate functions, thus, may not respond similarly to climate conditions across ecosystem types. Changes in climate variables may contribute to system-specific responses in population dynamics for channel catfish as well as other similar freshwater species. The establishment of relations between climate and growth variables for a freshwater generalist with a plastic diet and broad temperature tolerance serves as an indication of the breadth of responses possible for freshwater fishes under global changes in climate conditions.