Rapid decline of California’s native inland fishes: A status assessment

TitleRapid decline of California’s native inland fishes: A status assessment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMoyle, P. B., Katz J. V. E., & Quiñones R. M.
JournalBiological Conservation
Date Published10/2011
KeywordsAquatic conservation, Biodiversity, Endangered, freshwater fishes, Imperiled
AbstractA quantitative protocol was developed to determine conservation status of all 129 freshwater fishes native to California. Seven (5%) were extinct; 33 (26%) were found to be in danger of extinction in the near future (endangered); 33 (26%) were rated as sufficiently threatened to be on a trajectory towards extinction if present trends continue (vulnerable); 34 (26%) were rated as declining species but not in immediate danger of extinction. Only 22 (17%) species were found to be of least concern. Of 31 species officially listed under federal and state endangered species acts (ESAs), 17 (55%) were rated as endangered by our criteria, while 12 (39%) were rated vulnerable. Conversely, of the 33 species that received our endangered rating, only 17 (51%) were officially listed under the ESAs. Among the seven metrics used to assess extinction threat, climate change, area occupied and anthropogenic threats had the largest negative impacts on status. Of 15 categories of causes of decline, those most likely to diminish status were alien species, agriculture, and dams. Overall, 83% of California’s freshwater fishes are extinct or at risk of becoming so, a 16% increase since 1995 and a 21% increase since 1989. The rapid decline of California’s inland fishes is probably typical of declines in other regions that are less well documented, indicating a strong need for improved conservation of freshwater ecosystems.