Genomic evidence of past and future climate-linked loss in a migratory Arctic fish

Kara Layton* (Corresponding Author), Paul Snelgrove, J. Brian Dempson, Tony Kess, Sarah Lehnert, Paul Bentzen, Steve Duffy, Amber Messmer, Ryan Stanley, Claudio DiBacco, Sarah Salisbury, Daniel Ruzzante, Cameron Nugent, Moira Ferguson, Jong Leong, Ben Koop, Ian Bradbury* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite widespread biodiversity losses, an understanding of how most taxa will respond to future climate change is lacking. Here we integrate genomics and environmental modelling to assess climate change responses in an ecologically and economically important Arctic species. Environmentally associated genomic diversity and machine learning are used to identify highly vulnerable populations of anadromous (migratory) Arctic charr, and we reconstruct estimates of effective population size spanning the twentieth century to identify past climate-associated declines. We uncover past region-wide declines in effective population size that correspond to decreases in temperature and community biomass in the Northwest Atlantic. We find vulnerable populations near the southern range limit, indicating northward shifts and a possible loss of commercially important life-history variation in response to climate change. The genomic approach used here to investigate climate change response identifies past and future declines that impact species persistence, ecosystem stability and food security in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank staff of the Newfoundland DFO Salmonids section, Parks Canada, the Nunatsiavut Government, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Sivunivut Inuit Community Corporation, the Innu Nation, the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association and fishers for their support, participation and tissue collections and the staff of the Aquatic Biotechnology Lab at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography for DNA extractions. This study was supported by the Ocean Frontier Institute, a Genomics Research and Development Initiative (GRDI) Grant, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant and Strategic Project Grant to I.R.B., the Weston Family Award for research at the Torngat Mountains Base Camp and an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation grant allocated to the Labrador Institute.

Author Correction:
Layton, K.K.S., Snelgrove, P.V.R., Dempson, J.B. et al. Author Correction: Genomic evidence of past and future climate-linked loss in a migratory Arctic fish. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 551 (2021).


  • Biodiversity
  • climate-change ecology
  • climate-change impacts
  • Conservation biology
  • ecological genetics


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