Bad news for salmon

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More than three out of every four salmonids in California are expected to disappear within the next century, according to a study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes.

Jacob Katz and coauthors reached this conclusion after developing a quantitative protocol to determine the conservation status of Californian salmonids.

California is home to 32 species of native Pacific Coast salmonids, many of which represent the southernmost limit of their ranges. The authors found that if present trends are allowed to continue, 25 species (78%) will be extinct or be extirpated in the next 100 years.

Although the causes of decline are many and interact with each other, the authors consider increasing competition with humans for water, human degradation of watersheds, and adverse effects of hatchery propagation to be the major ones.

Additionally, the effects of climate change are accelerating this decline (because of the naturally stressful environments at the southern limit of the family’s distribution).

As things stand, the authors do not consider it possible to save all of California's salmonids. However, major reforms in management policy may be able to save most of these species.

For more information, see the paper: Katz, J., PB Moyle, RM Quiñones, J Israel and S Purdy (2012) Impending extinction of salmon, steelhead, and trout (Salmonidae) in California. Environmental Biology of Fishes doi:10.1007/s10641-012-9974-8

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