Lauren Wyman, 2014, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

How will climate change impact the United States’ biota? During my internship at the ­Environmental Defense Fund, I helped conservation scientists come one step closer to ­addressing this question by analyzing the impact of climate change on fish species in Illinois. To engage in the aptly dubbed Climate Change Vulnerability Analysis, I first studied how climate change is impacting freshwater aquatic systems, then ­extensively researched and documented life history traits of each of Illinois’ 195 fish species. I also analyzed my findings in a Climate Change Vulnerability Index program developed by NatureServe Explorer. The end product of my investigation revealed where each species ranked on a scale from “Increase Likely” to “Extremely Vulnerable” due to climate change. The final results of my project will help conservation scientists target species of concern in Illinois and will pave the way for more in depth field studies of climate change’s ­consequences on the Midwest’s freshwater fish. My individual work was part of a larger climate change vulnerability project that includes not only fish species but also mammals, ­amphibians, reptiles and birds. My findings will be presented at a workshop for conservation scientists at the end of September.