Climate threatens extinction for most Calif. native fish

Salmon and other native freshwater fish in California will likely become extinct within the next 100 years because of climate change -- if current trends continue -- ceding their habitats to non-native fish, predicts a new study by Center scientists Peter Moyle and Rebecca Quiñones.

The study, published online in May in the journal PLOS ONE, assessed how vulnerable each freshwater species in California is to climate change and estimated the likelihood that those species would become extinct in 100 years.

The researchers found that, of 121 native fish species, 82 percent are likely to be driven to extinction or very low numbers as climate change speeds the decline of already depleted populations. In contrast, only 19 percent of the 50 non-native fish species in the state face a similar risk of extinction.

“If present trends continue, much of the unique California fish fauna will disappear and be replaced by alien fishes, such as carp, largemouth bass, fathead minnows and green sunfish,” said Moyle, a professor of fish biology at UC Davis who has been documenting the biology and status of California fish for the past 40 years.