Dave Orrick: Walleye Decline with Global Warming

Pioneer Press:

Natural walleye lakes could be a rarity in Wisconsin by mid-century, thanks to climate change, a new study warns. And the largemouth bass shall inherit the warmer waters — and flourish, the government-funded study further predicts.

By as soon as 2040, a mere 4 percent of Wisconsin lakes might be able to support naturally sustained walleye populations — a 60 percent reduction from today — while the number of lakes conducive to high-abundance largemouth bass populations could rise to 89 percent, up from 60 percent today, according to the study, co-authored by researchers from state and federal agencies...

The bass-walleye transformation isn’t new. For 30 years, researchers have watched traditional walleye lakes become bass-dominated lakes, often to the chagrin of anglers and cabin owners. The root cause is not known for certain, but it correlates with lakes getting warmer as summers have grown hotter and winters have become shorter and less severe, said Gretchen Hansen, the study’s lead author. The warming climate is a likely culprit because biologists have long established that in similar lakes, walleyes dominate in cooler waters and largemouth bass in warmer waters.