Despite their importance to livelihoods and food security, our knowledge on lake fisheries is still limited at a global scale. In this project, now published on Nature Communications, researchers from 19 countries sought for a better understanding on how climate and land-use changes might affect lake fisheries, by analyzing annual time-series data for 31 lakes across five continents, with about equal number of lakes in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, between 1970 and 2014. The study found that fish catches could respond either positively or negatively to climate and land-use changes. At one level, effects of a climate or land-use driver (one of air temperature, precipitation, and agricultural land use in this project) on lake-environmental factors (water temperature, water level, and primary productivity) were relatively consistent in directions (e.g., warmer air temperatures always increased water temperatures). However, the effects of a changing lake-environmental factor (e.g., warmer water temperature) could have either positive or negative effects on fish catches across lakes. A subsequent correlation analysis indicates that reductions in fish catch was less likely to occur in response to potential climate and land-use changes if a lake is located in a region with greater access to clean water. This finding suggests adequate investments for water-quality protection and water-use efficiency can also provide additional benefits to lake fisheries and food security.
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