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Climate change said an extinction threat to native California fish

May 30, 2013 at 6:03 PM   |   Comments

DAVIS, Calif., May 30 (UPI) -- Many native freshwater fish in California may go extinct in the next century due to climate change, losing their habitats to non-native fish, researchers say.

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, said their study -- assessing how vulnerable each freshwater species in California is to climate change -- suggests 82 percent of the 121 native fish species surveyed are likely to be driven to extinction or very low numbers as climate change accelerates the decline of already depleted populations.

However, of the 50 non-native species currently in California, only 19 percent face a similar extinction risk, the researchers said.

"If present trends continue, much of the unique California fish fauna will disappear and be replaced by alien fishes, such as carp, large-mouth bass, fathead minnows and green sunfish," Peter Moyle, a professor of fish biology, said.

"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 in a university release Thursday.

Fish requiring cold water, such as salmon and trout, are particularly likely to go extinct, the researchers said.

"These fish are part of the endemic flora and fauna that makes California such a special place," Moyle said. "As we lose these fishes, we lose their environments and are much poorer for it."

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