Friday, July 13, 2007

Rare desert pupfish blooming in man-made ponds!!

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Scientists in Southern California have discovered a mysterious booming population of endangered desert pupfish in man-made research ponds designed for an entirely different purpose.

The plan was to study how bird populations respond to the different ponds, which are all carefully filled so as to prevent fish and other wildlife from being pumped in too. The water first travels through a trench with a rock barrier and then continues through one and a half miles of piping until reaching the ponds.

It was therefore surprising when Barnum and his colleagues noticed a number of larger fish (tilapia) swimming around in the ponds this year. They saw smaller fish in the ponds, too. The tiny fish, they discovered, were actually endangered desert pupfish—populations of which have declined over the course of the past few decades thanks to a loss of habitat and changes in environmental conditions, such as dam-building, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The scientists estimate that there are thousands of these endangered fish living in the research ponds, although most of them are young, and no one knows how many will survive into adulthood.

They also aren’t sure whether the pupfish are coming from the Salton Sea or the Alamo River, but it’s likely that they somehow made it through the rock barriers and made the voyage through the piping. Link

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