In 1962 the Green River was poisoned and its native fishes killed so that the new Flaming Gorge Reservoir could be stocked with non-native game fishes for sportsmen. This incident was representative of water management in the West, where dams and other projects have been built to serve human needs without consideration for the effects of water diversion or depletion on the ecosystem. Indeed, it took a Supreme Court decision in 1976 to save Devils Hole pupfish from habitat destruction at the hands of developers.
Nearly a third of the native fish fauna of North America lives in the arid West; this book traces their decline toward extinction as a result of human interference and the threat to their genetic diversity posed by decreases in their populations. What can be done to slow or end this tragedy? As the most comprehensive treatment ever attempted on the subject, Battle Against Extinction shows how conservation efforts have been or can be used to reverse these trends.
In covering fishes in arid lands west of the Mississippi Valley, the contributors provide a species-by-species appraisal of their status and potential for recovery, bringing together in one volume nearly all of the scattered literature on western fishes to produce a monumental work in conservation biology. They also ponder ethical considerations related to the issue, ask why conservation efforts have not proceeded at a proper pace, and suggest how native fish protection relates to other aspects of biodiversity planetwide. Their insights will allow scientific and public agencies to evaluate future management of these animal populations and will offer additional guidance for those active in water rights and conservation biology.