California Native Fish Could Disappear With Climate Change
Climate change could be the final blow for many of California’s native fish species, pushing them to extinction with extended drought, warmer water temperatures and altered stream flow.
The authors of a new study published online in the journal PLOS ONE used 20 metrics — including species population trends, physiological tolerance to temperature increase and ability to disperse — to gauge the vulnerability of native fishes to climate change.
The results: 82% of 121 native species were deemed highly vulnerable.
“Almost all of those fishes are in decline already and climate change is going to accelerate the decline,” said Peter Moyle, a UC Davis professor of fish biology and lead author of the paper.
“Disappearing fish will include not only obscure species of minnows, suckers and pupfishes, but also coho salmon, most runs of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon, and Sacramento perch,” he said.
Generally speaking, Moyle said, native fish in California and the Southwest are more likely to suffer from the effects of a warming climate than natives in other parts of the country because they are already in competition with humans for water in an arid region.