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A new study shows a clear link between healthy forests and healthy fish populations in boreal lakes.
Photo Credit: D. Langhorst, Ducks Unlimited

Preserve the fish means preserve the forests

A new study has shown that healthy boreal forests are important for a healthy and thriving fish population in lakes.

One of the study’s authors was Michael Arts (PhD), an expert on using lipid-based biochemical tracers (e.g., fatty acids) to assess how organisms respond to stress and also to reveal how food webs function.

He is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario

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The research was published this month in Nature Communications.

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Michael Arts (PhD) acquatic ecologist, professor in Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario © supplied

Using carbon tracing, the team was able to establish a clear link between the size and condition of fish and the degree of forestation around the lake and it’s watershed. 

They found that water runoff from forested areas cantained nutrients that were deposited around the point where streams entered a lake. Those nutrients fed bacteria, which fed zooplankton which continued up the food chain to fish.

They found the more heavily forested an area was, the healthier the fish and fish population.  In fact, using the carbon tracing, they found in heavily forested areas that up to 66% of some fishes biomass could be traced back to origins on the land, and not from their aquatic environment.

Professor Arts says this study shows that in order to protect freshwater ecosystems, one must also take into account the activities on land around that water system.

He points out freshwater fishing is vital in many areas of the world, and that preservation of surrounding forest areas will enable that fish resource to be viable and sustainable. 

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Posted in Animals, Economy, Environment, Science and Technology
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