Understanding the impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems requires disentangling the web of direct and indirect climate effects from other anthropogenic changes. There are very few undisturbed lakes and rivers in the world in which this might be possible. The Lake Hovsgol - Eg River system is one of them. This project team will bring a small group of U.S. graduate and undergraduate students to Lake Hovsgol (the 17th largest lake in the world by volume) and the Eg River (Lake Hovsgol's only outflow) to conduct ecological research with a focus on effects of climate change on threatened salmonid fishes. Specific projects include: (1) using tagging and genetics to understand spawning site fidelity and population structure; (2) diet and stable isotope studies to characterize the current food web compared to historical conditions; (3) developing a novel non-invasive photo markrecapture technique for estimating growth of taimen; (4) bioenergetic studies of threatened salmonids to understand their physiological responses to warming; (5) developing water and nutrient budgets to understand the effects of changing inputs from tributary streams into Lake Hovsgol; and (6) a variety of limnological and fish community sampling to understand long-term change and inter-annual variability. Students will be paired with a mentor from among the 13 U.S. project collaborators, most of whom have already conducted research in the Lake Hovsgol - Eg River ecosystem. Students' prepartion will include plans for sample processing, data analysis, and manuscript writing to be completed upon their return from the field. Two U.S. mentors (rotating) and a Mongolian mentor will accompany students and supervise the field research. Broader Impacts of this project include: (1) improving the knowledge base for management of aquatic ecosystems and threatened fishes in Mongolia and in other high latitude temperate environments; (2) providing an international research experience early in the academic careers of the student participants and extending their professional networks by working with project collaborators (11 institutions in 10 states in addition to our Mongolian collaborator); (3) engaging students in independent research projects (the majority of which should be publishable on their own) that also contribute to the broader goal of understanding how salmonid fishes respond to climate change in an otherwise nearly undisturbed system.
|Effective start/end date||4/1/11 → 3/31/14|
- National Science Foundation (NSF)