Boom times for fish populations


We’re all familiar with the idea of extreme events. Meteorologists keep us up to date on hurricanes, floods and high temperatures. Economists watch the stock market for signs of crashes or rallies. Researchers spend a lot of time trying to better predict these events, yet are often surprised by the outcomes. According to a new study in the journal Limnology & Oceanography Letters, when it comes to nature’s extremes, nothing seems to beat what happens underwater.

Scientists at the National Science Foundation (NSF) North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site — one of 28 NSF LTER sites — are routinely measuring everything from water temperature to nutrient concentrations to fish populations in Wisconsin lakes.

Taking advantage of several decades’ worth of data, Ryan Batt, the paper’s lead author, and a team of researchers compared data on various physical, chemical and biological variables — 595 variables in total. They found that as the lakes’ temperatures rose and their nutrient concentrations increased, so did the number of organisms living there.