Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Silent Streams? Escalating Endangerment For North American Freshwater Fish

Date:
September 10, 2008
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Nearly 40 percent of freshwater fish species in North America are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of these fishes in the last 20 years. The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190) or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct.

An endangered holiday darter (Amicola population). Darters are among the most threatened Southeastern fish; they have been likened to aquatic canaries.
Credit: Photo by Noel Burkhead, USGS

Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years.

Related Articles


The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct.

The new report, published in Fisheries, was conducted by a U.S. Geological Survey-led team of scientists from the United States, Canada and Mexico, who examined the status of continental freshwater and diadromous (those that migrate between rivers and oceans) fish.

"Freshwater fish have continued to decline since the late 1970s, with the primary causes being habitat loss, dwindling range and introduction of non-native species," said Mark Myers, director of the USGS. "In addition, climate change may further affect these fish."

Most Vulnerable Groups

The groups of fish most at risk are the highly valuable salmon and trout of the Pacific Coast and western mountain regions; minnows, suckers and catfishes throughout the continent; darters in the Southeastern United States; and pupfish, livebearers, and goodeids, a large, native fish family in Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

Nearly half of the carp and minnow family and the Percidae (family of darters, perches and their relatives) are in jeopardy. Fish families important for sport or commercial fisheries also had many populations at risk. More than 60 percent of the salmon and trout had at least one population or subspecies in trouble, while 22 percent of sunfishes— which includes the well-known species such as black bass, bluegill and rock bass— were listed. Even one of the most popular game species in the United States, striped bass, has populations on the list.

Regions with the Most Troubled Fish

Regions with especially notable numbers of troubled fish include the Southeastern United States, the mid-Pacific coast, the lower Rio Grande and basins in Mexico that do not drain to the sea.

Hotspots of regional biodiversity and greatest levels of endangerment are the Tennessee (58 fishes), Mobile (57), and the southeastern Atlantic Slope river systems (34). The Pacific central valley, western Great Basin, Rio Grande and rivers of central Mexico also have high diversity and numbers of fish in peril, according to the report. Many of the troubled fish are restricted to only a single drainage. "Human populations have greatly expanded in many of these watersheds, compounding negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems," noted Howard Jelks, a USGS researcher and the senior author of the paper.

Degree of Trouble

Of fish on the 1989 imperiled list, 89 percent are either still listed with the same conservation status or have become even more at risk. Only 11 percent improved in status or were delisted. The authors emphasized that improved public awareness and proactive management strategies are needed to protect and recover these aquatic treasures.

"Fish are not the only aquatic organisms undergoing precipitous declines," said USGS researcher Noel Burkhead, a lead author on the report and the chair of the AFS Endangered Species Committee. "Freshwater crayfishes, snails and mussels are exhibiting similar or even greater levels of decline and extinction."

The authors noted that the list was based on the best biological information available. "We believe this report will provide national and international resource managers, scientists and the conservation community with reliable information to establish conservation, management and recovery priorities," said Stephen Walsh, another lead author and USGS researcher.

This is the third compilation of imperiled, freshwater and diadromous fishes of North America prepared by the American Fisheries Society's Endangered Species Committee. Additional information is available at http://fisc.er.usgs.gov/afs/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Silent Streams? Escalating Endangerment For North American Freshwater Fish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080909205412.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2008, September 10). Silent Streams? Escalating Endangerment For North American Freshwater Fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080909205412.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Silent Streams? Escalating Endangerment For North American Freshwater Fish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080909205412.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins