North American freshwater fishes race to extinction

August 15, 2012WASHINGTON - North American freshwater fishes are going extinct at an alarming rate compared with other species, according to an article in the September issue of BioScience. The rate of extinctions increased noticeably after 1950, although it has leveled off in the past decade. The number of extinct species has grown by 25 percent since 1989. The article, by Noel M. Burkhead of the US Geological Survey, examines North American freshwater fish extinctions from the end of the 19th Century to 2010, when there were 1213 species in the continent, or about 9 percent of the Earth’s freshwater fish diversity. At least 57 North American species and subspecies, and 3 unique populations, have gone extinct since 1898, about 3.2 percent of the total. Freshwater species generally are known to suffer higher rates of extinction than terrestrial vertebrates. Extinctions in fishes are mostly caused by loss of habitat and the introduction of nonindigenous species. In North America, there are more freshwater fish species in a typical drainage to the east of the Great Continental Divide than to the west, where a greater proportion of species have gone extinct or are found nowhere else. Estimating the number of extinctions relies on scrutiny of historical records and careful estimation procedures, since the last populations of a species are often recognized as such only in hindsight-there is typically a lag of several years from the last observation of a species and its estimated year of extinction. Estimates are complicated by the fact that, on average, 6.7 new species are discovered each year, and occasionally a species thought to have gone extinct is “rediscovered.” Nonetheless, Burkhead concludes that between 53 and 86 species of North American freshwater fishes are likely to have gone extinct by 2050, and that the rate of extinction is now at least 877 times the background extinction rate over geological time. –Terra Daily
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8 Responses to North American freshwater fishes race to extinction

  1. James says:

    They are not going to go extinct there are too many breeding programs. There is a place in Great Falls Montana called Giant Springs State Park. I have been trying to visit all of Montana’s State Parks. I am only about half way through them. Giant Springs is the most visited state park in Montana and they have a breeding facility that people can partially tour. You can see all kinds of trout at all stages of development. You can walk out on the parks fishing pier and look straight down and see lots of fish during the right time of day. Of course in the summer heat the trout stay near the deeper parts of the Missouri but that clear spring water that runs out of the Roe River (The Roe is the world’s shortest river) into the missouri river you can see lots of them. I caught a 19 inch rainbow trout out there when I took one of the two trips I made out to that park. I got to go twice to that park and have to travel to Great Falls occasionally with the FWP.

  2. Marybell says:

    Dept of Agric. used to stock ponds with fish. Do not know if that is still available or not. We had fish several times a week. Just get a pole and go to the pond. Presto – Supper.

  3. wendy says:

    No fish ever stood(swam) a chance with billions of humans eating them right out of the environments, then farming them, then polluting the waters they live in. Now streams are warming up and or drying up. Going vegan is the only way this world might survive. No one connects the dots when it comes to food. Every person should look at their own impact. I am organic only vegan (no grains) now. I thnk it was an important choice in my life considering the imapct processing meat takes on the environment and the horrid damage fishing has done. And all of the streams are polluted and dying now.

    • Sadly, no one connects the dots when it comes to most things, Wendy. 98.5% of the planet’s population don’t grow their own food and still people rail on and on about infinite economic expansion and the planet’s unlimited resources. Both are fables. When ecosystems crash, as they do, we are left with more people than available resources. We can’t invent food in a famine no more than the world can create jobs when there are more people out there than available employment opportunities to support them. We have never understood the principles of conservation and cyclical renewal when it comes to the way nature operates.

      The Syrian conflict has created 1 million refugees. What country has stepped up to take them in?

      That’s one small conflict. When natural disasters ravage the planet, streams dry up, the fish continue to die, and growing seasons are destroyed by climate change —-cannibalism will be the result. That’s the real ‘zombie horror’ the CDC is preparing Americans for.

      • K.J. says:

        That is the way I see it as well. Twenty years ago I would tell people we have to quit basing our whole global economy on continuous growth and they would just look at me like I was out of my mind or some sort of crazy environmentalist.

        Recently I have been telling friends and relatives that everyone needs to get their act together and prepare as best they can as we are all on our own in a big disaster. NO ONE is going to open their doors to millions of refugees. Most governments and local environments have trouble coping with the demands of their existing populations.

        It ain’t going to be pretty and people just don’t seem to get it.

    • Jaff says:

      Lol. You know, if all 7 billion of the population become vegan, there wouldn’t be enough vegetables to go around and we’d run out, then all the herbivores on the planet will die. That’s just not right. Plus, a big, juicy steak is so delicious and vegetables are gross.

  4. john says:

    Please. That human beings have canines (and molars) in their dentition, and enzymes produced to digest animal proteins show that we can eat animals on the land or in the sea, and not solely on the greens or the saprophytes (fungi).

  5. O much for enlightenment folks. Strange as it is denial seems to be a survival skill. As with eminent resource depletion, the American conservatives really are denying birth control, which if memory serves, should be a conservative concept.

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