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Evaluation of extinction risk for stream fishes within an urban riverscape using population viability analysis

June 19, 2024

1. The Santa Ana River in the Los Angeles region of California demonstrates common habitat degradation symptoms that are characteristic of the urban stream syndrome. These impacts have altered the Santa Ana River community structure, with few species as impacted as the native Santa Ana sucker (sucker; Pantosteus santaanae). 2. Consequently, a recovery plan developed for sucker identified the need for a population viability analysis (PVA) to assess sucker extirpation risk. However, PVAs can be data-intensive and are subject to several sources of bias when standardized protocols are absent. 3. More than 20 years of sucker and arroyo chub (chub; Gila orcuttii) surveys using different methods were compiled to build an integrated hierarchical multi-population PVA to estimate trends in abundance and extirpation probability of these native fishes from the Santa Ana River. 4. PVA modelling indicated similar patterns in sucker and chub abundance along the Santa Ana River, with the highest abundance of both species in the upper regions of the river during the early 2000s and downstream in recent years (2018–2022). Extirpation risk was estimated to be greatest near wastewater treatment facilities, where native fish abundance estimates have been zero since 2018. Extirpation risk was lower downstream of the wastewater treatment facilities for both species, although extinction risk was higher for sucker than chub throughout the river. 5. As the model evolves and more data are collected, the PVA could be used to assess the effects of various management actions, such as non-native predator removals and native fish re-introductions, on sucker and chub persistence.

Publication Year 2024
Title Evaluation of extinction risk for stream fishes within an urban riverscape using population viability analysis
DOI 10.1002/aqc.4164
Authors Brock Huntsman, Kai Palenscar, Kerwin Russell, Brett Mills, Chris Jones, William Ota, Kurt E. Anderson, Heather Dyer, Fitsum Abadi, Marissa L. Wulff
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Index ID 70255569
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center