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Academic & Professional Books  Conservation & Biodiversity  Conservation & Biodiversity: General

Standing between Life and Extinction Ethics and Ecology of Conserving Aquatic Species in North American Deserts

By: David L Propst(Editor), Jack E Williams(Editor), Kevin R Bestgen(Editor), Christopher W Hoagstrom(Editor), Tom S Udall(Foreword By), Edwin P Pister(Preface By)
496 pages, 90 colour & 22 b/w illustrations
Standing between Life and Extinction
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  • Standing between Life and Extinction ISBN: 9780226694474 Paperback Mar 2021 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Standing between Life and Extinction ISBN: 9780226694337 Hardback May 2021 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles

About this book

North American deserts – lands of little water – have long been home to a surprising diversity of aquatic life, from fish to insects and molluscs. With European settlement, however, water extraction, resource exploitation, and invasive species set many of these native aquatic species on downward spirals. In Standing between Life and Extinction, conservationists dedicated to these creatures document the history of their work, the techniques and philosophies that inform it, and the challenges and opportunities of the future.

A precursor to this book, Battle Against Extinction, laid out the scope of the problem and related conservation activities through the late 1980s. Since then, many nascent conservation programs have matured, and researchers have developed new technologies, improved and refined methods, and greatly expanded our knowledge of the myriad influences on the ecology and dynamics of these species. Standing between Life and Extinction brings the story up to date. While the future for some species is more secure than thirty years ago, others are less fortunate. Calling attention not only to iconic species like the razorback sucker, Gila trout, and Devils Hole pupfish, but also to other fishes and obscure and fascinating invertebrates inhabiting intermittent aquatic habitats, this book explores the scientific, social, and political challenges of preserving these aquatic species and their habitats amid an increasingly charged political discourse and in desert regions characterized by a growing human population and rapidly changing climate.


Foreword / Senator Tom Udall
Preface / Edwin P. (Phil) Pister

Section 1. Engaging the Battle
1 The Battle to Conserve Aquatic Species in Lands of Water Scarcity Continues / Jack E. Williams and David L. Propst
2 The Protagonists
      2a Carl Leavitt Hubbs and Robert Rush Miller / Robert J. Edwards
      2b W. L. Minckley / Chuck O. Minckley
      2c Salvador Contreras-Balderas / María de Lourdes Lozano-Vilano and Armando Jesús Contreras-Balderas
      2d James E. Deacon / Cindy Deacon Williams
      2e Clark Hubbs / Gary P. Garrett
      2f Robert J. Behnke / Kevin R. Bestgen and Kurt D. Fausch
      2g Edwin P. (Phil) Pister / Kathryn Boyer
3 Biodiversity, Biogeography, and Conservation of North American Desert Fishes / Christopher W. Hoagstrom, Derek D. Houston, and Norman Mercado-Silva
4 Living with Aliens: Nonnative Fishes in the American Southwest / Peter B. Moyle
5 Current Conservation Status of Some Freshwater Species and Their Habitats in México / María de Lourdes Lozano-Vilano, Armando J. Contreras-Balderas, Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos, and María Elena García-Ramírez
6 Ghosts of Our Making: Extinct Aquatic Species of the North American Desert Region / Jack E. Williams and Donald W. Sada

Section 2. Racing to Collapse
7 Running on Empty: Southwestern Water Supplies and Climate Change / Brad Udall
8 Mining Hidden Waters: Groundwater Depletion, Aquatic Habitat Degradation, and Loss of Fish Diversity in the Chihuahuan Desert Ecoregion of Texas / Gary P. Garrett, Megan G. Bean, Robert J. Edwards, and Dean A. Hendrickson
9 Southwestern Fish and Aquatic Systems: The Climate Challenge / Jonathan T. Overpeck and Scott A. Bonar
10 Novel Drought Regimes Restructure Aquatic Invertebrate Communities in Arid-Land Streams / Kate S. Boersma and David A. Lytle
11 The Exotic Dilemma: Lessons Learned from Efforts to Recover Native Colorado River Basin Fishes / Brandon Albrecht, Ron Kegerries, Ron Rogers, and Paul Holden

Section 3. Improving the Odds
12 Applying Endangered Species Act Protections to Desert Fishes: Assessment and Opportunities / Matthew E. Andersen and James E. Brooks
13 The Value of Specimen Collections for Conserving Biodiversity / Adam E. Cohen, Dean A. Hendrickson, and Gary P. Garrett
14 Conservation Genetics of Desert Fishes in the Genomics Age / Thomas F. Turner, Thomas E. Dowling, Trevor J. Krabbenhoft, Megan J. Osborne, and Tyler J. Pilger
15 Long-Term Monitoring of a Desert Fish Assemblage in Aravaipa Creek, Arizona / Peter N. Reinthal, Heidi Blasius, and Mark Haberstich
16 Human Impacts on the Hydrology, Geomorphology, and Restoration Potential of Southwestern Rivers / Mark C. Stone and Ryan R. Morrison
17 Conservation and Ecological Rehabilitation of North American Desert Spring Ecosystems / Donald W. Sada and Lawrence E. Stevens

Section 4. Searching for Recovery
18 Oases: Finding Hidden Biodiversity Gems in the Southern Sonoran Desert / Michael T. Bogan, Carlos Alonso Ballesteros-Córdova, Scott E. K. Bennett, Michael H. Darin, Lloyd T. Findley, and Alejandro Varela-Romero
19 Recent Discoveries and Conservation of Catfishes, Genus Ictalurus, in México / Alejandro Varela-Romero, Carlos Alonso Ballesteros-Córdova, Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos, Sergio Sánchez-Gonzalez, and James E. Brooks
20 Ecology, Politics, and Conservation of Gila Trout / David L. Propst, Thomas F. Turner, Jerry A. Monzingo, James E. Brooks, and Dustin J. Myers
21 Large-River Fish Conservation in the Colorado River Basin: Progress and Challenges with Razorback Sucker / Kevin R. Bestgen, Thomas E. Dowling, Brandon Albrecht, and Koreen A. Zelasko
22 Assisting Recovery: Intensive Interventions to Conserve Native Fishes of Desert Springs and Wetlands / Sean C. Lema, Jennifer M. Gumm, Olin G. Feuerbacher, and Michael R. Schwemm
23 Restoration of Aquatic Habitats and Native Fishes in the Desert: Some Successes in Western North America / Anthony A. Echelle and Alice F. Echelle

Section 5. Exploring Our Future
24 The Devils Hole Pupfish: Science in a Time of Crises / Kevin P. Wilson, Mark B. Hausner, and Kevin C. Brown
25 Politics, Imagination, Ideology, and the Realms of Our Possible Futures / Christopher Norment
26 Searching for Common Ground between Life and Extinction / Christopher W. Hoagstrom, Kevin R. Bestgen, David L. Propst, and Jack E. Williams
List of Contributors

Customer Reviews


David L. Propst is adjunct professor and associate curator in the Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico. He is coauthor of Fish of the Rockies. He lives in Albuquerque, NM.

Jack E. Williams is emeritus senior scientist for Trout Unlimited. Most recently, he is coeditor of Trout and Char of the World. He lives in Oregon's Rogue River Valley.

Kevin R. Bestgen is a senior research scientist in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology as well as director of the Larval Fish Laboratory at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins, CO.

Christopher W. Hoagstrom is professor in the Department of Zoology at Weber State University. He lives in Ogden, UT.

By: David L Propst(Editor), Jack E Williams(Editor), Kevin R Bestgen(Editor), Christopher W Hoagstrom(Editor), Tom S Udall(Foreword By), Edwin P Pister(Preface By)
496 pages, 90 colour & 22 b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"This book should appeal to anyone broadly interested in conservation and management of water resources, and specifically to conservation scientists, natural resource managers, and fish biologists. There are strong historical threads woven throughout the chapters, and it serves both as a tribute to pioneering legends of early desert fish conservation and a synthesis of ongoing work that reveals successes, failures, and challenges in the face of human populations expanding into arid regions, the increasing conflicts over exploitation of water and land, and the overriding and worsening impacts of human-mediated climate change. The breadth of topics presented and synthesis of complex research outcomes as applied to conservation challenges are impressive. A valuable addition to the conservation literature that will be read widely and cited extensively."
– Michael S. Parker, Southern Oregon State University



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