Water scarcity is a growing concern in Texas, where surface water is derived almost entirely from rainfall. Changes in air temperature and precipitation patterns associated with global climate change are anticipated to regionally affect the quality and quantity of inland surface waters and consequently their suitability as habitat for freshwater life. In addition to directly affecting resident organisms and populations, these changes in physicochemical traits of aquatic habitats may favor the establishment of harmful invasive species. As conflicts over the use of water resources grow in intensity, this information will become important for fish and wildlife managers to anticipate impacts of climate change on trust resources and to evaluate their management options. This project had four objectives: (1) to assemble an electronic database of observed historical water temperatures and other relevant water quality information for selected reservoirs in Texas with significant fisheries resource status; (2) to combine historical records of reservoir water quality, air temperature, and precipitation with projected climate changes to develop statistical models capable of projecting the potential impacts of future climate change on patterns of water temperature and quality in the selected reservoirs; (3) to assess the impact of the projected changes on the physical and chemical environment and on aquatic populations and communities; and (4) to conduct a retrospective analysis of relations that may exist between historical changes in water quality and the relatively recent spread of a harmful invasive species in Texas, golden alga.
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“Pecos River, Texas - Credit: Alan Cressler”