Standing between Life and ExtinctionEthics and Ecology of Conserving Aquatic Species in North American Deserts

Standing between Life and ExtinctionEthics and Ecology of Conserving Aquatic Species in North American Deserts

David Propst, Jack Williams, Kevin Bestgen, and Christopher Hoagstrom

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226694337

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Our goal organizing this work was to update the landmark 1991 volume, Battle Against Extinction, and provide scientists and the public with a contemporary view of the status of aquatic ecosystems in North American deserts and rationales and approaches for their conservation. While predecessor editors W. L. Minckley and J. E. Deacon painted a grim picture, they noted that knowledge for effective conservation existed, but the missing ingredient was societal willingness to act. Many chapters in this new volume report worsening situations in the intervening decades, while others report modest success and cautious optimism. Several chapters also report practical, on-the-ground examples of conservation strategies for endangered species and habitats. However, the task of Standing Between Life and Extinction remains difficult and the future is ominous. Growth of mega-cities and vast river engineering projects to provide municipal and agricultural water have desiccated streams and simplified or destroyed aquatic habitats. Where water remains, invasive fishes and other species, introduced with reckless abandon, threaten native faunas. The result was numerous extinctions and escalating extinction debts for surviving natives, the latter exacerbated by extended drought, climate change, and unabated human population growth that is unhindered by the yet-absent will to change. Sustainable coexistence of humans and functioning aquatic ecosystems in the desert requires new and innovative strategies that are collaboratively developed and adopted. A conservation ethic going forward must include behavior constraints as the centerpiece, which would dictate humanity’s need to live sustainably with water supplies, natural habitats, and native species.

Table of Contents

Section 1 Engaging the Battle

2 The Protagonists

Robert J. Edwards

3 Biodiversity, Biogeography, and Conservation of North American Desert Fishes

Christopher W. Hoagstrom, Derek D. Houston, and Norman Mercado-Silva

4 Living with Aliens

Peter B. Moyle

5 Current Conservation Status of Some Freshwater Species and Their Habitats in México

María de Lourdes Lozano-Vilano, Armando J. Contreras-Balderas, Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos, and María Elena García-Ramírez

6 Ghosts of Our Making

Jack E. Williams and Donald W. Sada

Section 2 Racing to Collapse

7 Running on Empty

Bradley H. Udall

8 Mining Hidden Waters

Gary P. Garrett, Megan G. Bean, Robert J. Edwards, and Dean A. Hendrickson

9 Southwestern Fish and Aquatic Systems: The Climate Challenge

Jonathan T. Overpeck and Scott A. Bonar

11 The Exotic Dilemma

Brandon Albrecht, Ron Kegerries, Ron Rogers, and Paul Holden

Section 3 Improving the Odds

12 Applying Endangered Species Act Protections to Desert Fishes

Matthew E. Andersen and James E. Brooks

13 The Value of Specimen Collections for Conserving Biodiversity

Adam E. Cohen, Dean A. Hendrickson, and Gary P. Garrett

14 Conservation Genetics of Desert Fishes in the Genomics Age

Thomas F. Turner, Thomas E. Dowling, Trevor J. Krabbenhoft, Megan J. Osborne, and Tyler J. Pilger

15 Long-Term Monitoring of a Desert Fish Assemblage in Aravaipa Creek, Arizona

Peter N. Reinthal, Heidi Blasius, and Mark Haberstich

Section 4 Searching for Recovery

18 Oases

Michael T. Bogan, Carlos Alonso Ballesteros-Córdova, Scott E. K. Bennett, Michael H. Darin, Lloyd T. Findley, and Alejandro Varela-Romero

19 Recent Discoveries and Conservation of Catfishes, Genus Ictalurus, in México

Alejandro Varela-Romero, Carlos Alonso Ballesteros-Córdova, Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos, Sergio Sánchez-González, and James E. Brooks

20 Ecology, Politics, and Conservation of Gila Trout

David L. Propst, Thomas F. Turner, Jerry A. Monzingo, James E. Brooks, and Dustin J. Myers

21 Large-River Fish Conservation in the Colorado River Basin

Kevin R. Bestgen, Thomas E. Dowling, Brandon Albrecht, and Koreen A. Zelasko

22 Assisting Recovery

Sean C. Lema, Jennifer M. Gumm, Olin G. Feuerbacher, and Michael R. Schwemm

Section 5 Exploring Our Future

24 The Devils Hole Pupfish

Kevin P. Wilson, Mark B. Hausner, and Kevin C. Brown

26 Searching for Common Ground between Life and Extinction

Christopher W. Hoagstrom, Kevin R. Bestgen, David L. Propst, and Jack E. Williams