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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 17:179-191 (2012)  -  DOI:

Endangered river fish: factors hindering conservation and restoration

Steven J. Cooke1,*, Craig Paukert2, Zeb Hogan3

1Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada
2United States Geological Survey, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
3Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Mail Stop 186, 1664 North Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada 89557, USA

ABSTRACT: Globally, riverine fish face many anthropogenic threats including riparian and flood plain habitat degradation, altered hydrology, migration barriers, fisheries exploitation, environmental (climate) change, and introduction of invasive species. Collectively, these threats have made riverine fishes some of the most threatened taxa on the planet. Although much effort has been devoted to identifying the threats faced by river fish, there has been less effort devoted to identifying the factors that may hinder our ability to conserve and restore river fish populations and their watersheds. Therefore, we focus our efforts on identifying and discussing 10 general factors (can also be viewed as research and implementation needs) that constrain or hinder effective conservation action for endangered river fish: (1) limited basic natural history information; (2) limited appreciation for the scale/extent of migrations and the level of connectivity needed to sustain populations; (3) limited understanding of fish/river-flow relationships; (4) limited understanding of the seasonal aspects of river fish biology, particularly during winter and/or wet seasons; (5) challenges in predicting the response of river fish and river ecosystems to both environmental change and various restoration or management actions; (6) limited understanding of the ecosystem services provided by river fish; (7) the inherent difficulty in studying river fish; (8) limited understanding of the human dimension of river fish conservation and management; (9) limitations of single species approaches that often fail to address the broader-scale problems; and (10) limited effectiveness of governance structures that address endangered river fish populations and rivers that cross multiple jurisdictions. We suggest that these issues may need to be addressed to help protect, restore, or conserve river fish globally, particularly those that are endangered.

KEY WORDS: Large rivers · Endangered fish · Connectivity · Conservation · Threats

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Cite this article as: Cooke SJ, Paukert C, Hogan Z (2012) Endangered river fish: factors hindering conservation and restoration. Endang Species Res 17:179-191.

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