An exploration of the direct and indirect effects of climatic warming on arctic lake ecosystems




Arctic lakes support trophic interactions, biological processes, and critical habitat at all trophic levels; however, climatic warming threatens to alter the structure and function of aquatic communities and overall system production. Arctic ecosystems are warming at some of the fastest rates observed on earth, and arctic lakes are experiencing more frequent years of warmer surface water and deeper mixing. However, the ability to detect and quantify ecosystem effects and specific biological responses (e.g. bacterial diversity, invertebrate production, fish growth) to these climatic changes has been primarily limited to non-mechanistic modeled scenarios and observational studies in uncontrolled environments. The proposed research will use a controlled whole-lake manipulation experiment to answer: How will warmer lake temperatures and extended growing season alter (1) lake ice coverage and annual thermal regime, (2) abundance, activity and diversity of primary and secondary producers, (3) fish vital rates and dynamics, and (4) degree of carry-over across growing seasons and cumulative effects on ecosystem production. Experimental results will be combined with long-term Arctic LTER data and used to inform a linked modeling system (coupled lake-climate, mesoscale lake temperature, and fish bioenergetic/matrix) to answer: How will warmer lake temperatures and an extended growing season alter: (1) lake thermodymamics at regional and arctic scales, and (2) fish populations across lake types of the Arctic. Our research will quantify lake thermal processes and lake-atmosphere feedbacks and document and predict lake biota and ecosystem responses to lake thermal condition changes under different climate scenarios. By providing some of the first empirical evidence of how fundamental processes will actually change in the face of climate change, our research will also improve understanding of ecosystem service sustainability (e.g., subsistence fisheries).


  • National Science Foundation
  • Department of Watershed Sciences, PhD Fellowship
  • US Geological Survey – Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (in-kind)


  • Phaedra Budy, Principle Investigator, USGS – UCFWRU – Dept. of Watershed Sciences and the Ecology Center at Utah State University
  • Sarah Null, Co-Principle Investigator, Dept. of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University
  • Jiming Jin, Co-Principle Investigator, Dept. Watershed Sciences at Utah State University
  • Byron Crump, Co-Principle Investigator, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University
  • Anne Giblin, Co-Principle Investigator, Ecosystems Center at Marine Biological Laboratories

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