Climate change drives widespread shifts in lake thermal habitat

Benjamin M. Kraemer, Rachel M. Pilla, R. Iestyn Woolway, Orlane Anneville, Syuhei Ban, William Colom-Montero, Shawn P. Devlin, Martin T. Dokulil, Evelyn E. Gaiser, K. David Hambright, Dag O. Hessen, Scott N. Higgins, Klaus D. Jöhnk, Wendel Keller, Lesley B. Knoll, Peter R. Leavitt, Fabio Lepori, Martin S. Luger, Stephen C. Maberly, Dörthe C. Müller-NavarraAndrew M. Paterson, Donald C. Pierson, David C. Richardson, Michela Rogora, James A. Rusak, Steven Sadro, Nico Salmaso, Martin Schmid, Eugene A. Silow, Ruben Sommaruga, Julio A.A. Stelzer, Dietmar Straile, Wim Thiery, Maxim A. Timofeyev, Piet Verburg, Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer, Rita Adrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Lake surfaces are warming worldwide, raising concerns about lake organism responses to thermal habitat changes. Species may cope with temperature increases by shifting their seasonality or their depth to track suitable thermal habitats, but these responses may be constrained by ecological interactions, life histories or limiting resources. Here we use 32 million temperature measurements from 139 lakes to quantify thermal habitat change (percentage of non-overlap) and assess how this change is exacerbated by potential habitat constraints. Long-term temperature change resulted in an average 6.2% non-overlap between thermal habitats in baseline (1978–1995) and recent (1996–2013) time periods, with non-overlap increasing to 19.4% on average when habitats were restricted by season and depth. Tropical lakes exhibited substantially higher thermal non-overlap compared with lakes at other latitudes. Lakes with high thermal habitat change coincided with those having numerous endemic species, suggesting that conservation actions should consider thermal habitat change to preserve lake biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was initiated through the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) and benefitted from continued participation and travel support from GLEON. We thank C. Munteanu, K. Kakouei, M. Thayne and U. Scharfenberger for their constructive discussions about the manuscript. Funding and data in support of this work also came from the following sources: Belarus Republican Foundation for Fundamental Research; Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries Long-Term Research (Germany); 2017–2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND programme; and with the funding organizations German Science Foundation (grant no. AD 91/22-1); Universidad del Valle de Guatemala; Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (through the Sport Fish Restoration Program, Grant F-61-R; United States); Archbold Biological Station; Oklahoma Water Resources Board; Grand River Dam Authority; United States Army Corps of Engineers; City of Tulsa; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (grant no. UOW X1503; New Zealand); Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom (grant no. NE/R016429/1); Lacawac Sanctuary and Biological Field Station; Ontario Ministry of the Environment; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Canada Foundation for Innovation; Canada Research Chairs; Province of Saskatchewan, Canada; University of Regina, Canada; Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom; California Air Resources Board; United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration; United States National Park Service; European Ministry of Higher Education and Research (grant no. 671 6.1387.2017); Environmental Agency of Verona; United States National Science Foundation (grant nos. DEB-1754276, DEB-1242626 and DEB-1950170); Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Mellon Foundation; University of Washington; Tyrolean Alps Long-Term Sociological Ecological and Research (LTSER, Austria); Waikato Regional Council; Bay of Plenty Regional Council; the Observatory of Lakes (OLA); SILA; CISALB; CIPEL (SOERE-OLA, [downloaded in January 2014]); The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), by courtesy of Å. S. Kvambekk; Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 20-64-46003); Russian Ministry of Higher Education and Research (grant nos. FZZE-2020-0026 and FZZE-2020-0023); Lake Baikal Foundation for Support of Applied Ecological Research and Development (; British Antarctic Survey; International Long-Term Ecological Research Network; United States Environmental Protection Agency; Lake Tahoe Environmental Research Center; Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory; City of Zurich Water Supply; Office of Waste, Water, Energy and Air, Canton of Zürich; Shiga Prefectural Fishery Experiment Station; Experimental Lakes Area of Canada; University of Nevada, Reno; Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO project EAGLES CD/AR/02A); National Capital Authority (ACT, Australia); Swedish Environmental Protection Agency; Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Sciences financed by the Swedish Research Council (grant no. 2017-00635); International Commission for the Protection of Italian-Swiss Waters (CIPAIS); International Commission for the Protection of Lake Constance; Max Planck Institute for Limnology; and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant no. 722518 (MANTEL).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Climate change drives widespread shifts in lake thermal habitat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this