Standing between Life and Extinction: Ethics and Ecology of Conserving Aquatic Species in North American Deserts (Paperback)
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North American deserts—lands of little water—have long been home to a surprising diversity of aquatic life, from fish to insects and mollusks. With European settlement, however, water extraction, resource exploitation, and invasive species set many of these native aquatic species on downward spirals. In this book, 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.
About the Author
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.
"Many see the arid lands of western North America as a stretch of dry, flyover territory, the setting for shoot-'em-up cowboy movies and the venue for arguments over water rights. This volume edited by Propst, Williams, Bestgen, and Hoagstrom will completely shatter those supercilious projections. Conservation of desert fishes was introduced in Battle against Extinction,edited by W. L. Minckley and James Deacon. A group of passionate experts in biodiversity, conservation, history, hydrology, and politics expand the subject in this excellent exploration of the land-water-bioconservation ethic for both sides of the RioGrande. Adding to its attraction as a textbook, a deep dive by researchers will reward with new lines of inquiry. The photographs are striking and instructive, tables are crisp, and the writing style is inviting. In particular, candid photographs of habitats and workers in the field offer readers an authentic view of the people, topics, and challenges the volume addresses. The index is extensive, and each chapter includes its own list of cited literature. This reviewer could not ask for more in a textbook for use in advanced classes, or as a reference work to be added to his personal bookshelf. . . . Highly recommended"
“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