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The Northwoods is known for its outdoor recreation, with fishing playing a crucial role in this sector. The region is home to numerous lakes and rivers that support a diverse range of fish species. However, recent climate changes may have a significant impact on the region’s fisheries.

According to Holly Embke, a research fish biologist with the USGS Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, temperatures in Wisconsin have increased by about 2 to 3 degrees since 1950 and are projected to warm an additional 2 to 8 degrees in the next 25 years. These changes could affect fish populations in the area.

Species like bluegill and bass are thriving in warmer waters, while cold water species like walleye are struggling. A recent study highlighted that shifts in ice-off dates may pose a threat to walleye spawning. Despite these challenges, Embke emphasizes the importance of understanding where fish populations are struggling and thriving and implementing habitat restoration strategies to support these populations. Actions such as habitat restoration and focusing on different fish species like yellow perch or sunfish may help mitigate the impacts of climate change on fisheries.

Embke will be discussing these challenges and the significance of inland fisheries at the upcoming Science on Tap event in Minocqua on April 4. The event will be held at Rocky Reef Brewing Company in Woodruff and will also be available for streaming online. Embke hopes that attendees will gain a better understanding of the potential changes affecting fish communities and realize that while changes are inevitable, there are opportunities to adapt and support these ecosystems in a changing climate.

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