A new study published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE warns that many native Californian fish – including salmon – are on track to extinction due to climate change. The study found that 82 percent of all native Californian fish are facing extinction because of global warming and the man-made degradation of marine habitats.
Fish species such as salmon and trout require cold water, but due to global warming, marine habitats are increasingly exposed to long periods of severe droughts, low flow and—needless to say—heat. This, combined with the destruction of marine habitats, causes major declines of fish population throughout the world, particularly in areas with arid and Mediterranean climates, according to the study. If this trend continues in Californian waters, species unique to the region will be replaced by alien fish.
Fish biologist and professor at UC Davis, Peter Moyle, claims that some of California’s endemic fish species are most likely to be extinct within the next 100 years. Species such as Klamath Mountains Province summer steelhead, McCloud River redband trout, Delta smelt and pink salmon will be replaced with carp, largemouth bass, fathead minnows and green sunfish. The gravity of the situation, says Moyle, demands rapid and effective methods for assessing the vulnerability of different species which could lead to establishing adequate conservation strategies.