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'Tsunami' video sheds light on struggling pupfish
Date:5/11/2010

renity gave way to turmoil in the small world of the Devils Hole pupfish.

"The water was sloshing back and forth so hard it splashed against our cameras four feet above the waterline," said Ambre Chaudoin, a graduate student in fisheries conservation and management with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the UA.

"The quake swept the shelf clean from algae, shuffling the silt and cobble around. Such disturbance can be important because the spawning shelf is less than 13 feet long and 7 feet wide, smaller than many walk-in closets. "

Chaudoin and fellow USGS researcher Olin Feuerbacher, a senior research specialist for the Cooperative, conduct the pupfish monitoring study as part of a joint effort to protect the Devils Hole pupfish population. Under its land grant mission, the UA is tasked with research aimed to learn how the fish might be propagated in captivity and what factors may threaten their survival as a species.

The study is being conducted by the USGS Arizona Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit and is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Struggling to survive

Devils Hole pupfish numbered about 400-500 until the late 1960s, when the water level in the pool dropped in response to pumping of nearby irrigation wells. Only a U.S. Supreme Court order prevented the shallow spawning shelf from falling dry, thus saving the species from extinction.

Since then, the Devils Hole pupfish have struggled to survive.

Chaudoin and Feuerbacher make the trip from Tucson to Devils Hole twice a month to check on the measuring equipment and download data. They happened to be on location conducting pupfish behavior surveys the day of the April 4 earthquake. Just 10 minutes before the quake struck, they had reconnected the video cameras to their recor
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Contact: Daniel Stolte
stolte@email.arizona.edu
520-626-4402
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

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