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Predation and Species Replacement in American Southwestern Fishes: A Case Study

Gary K. Meffe
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 30, No. 2 (May 31, 1985), pp. 173-187
DOI: 10.2307/3670732
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3670732
Page Count: 15
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Predation and Species Replacement in American Southwestern Fishes: A Case Study
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Abstract

Declines in distribution and abundance of native fishes of the American Southwest have been noted for decades, but mechanisms leading to these losses are unclear. The Sonoran topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis) was studied to determine mechanisms leading to local extirpation, as a model of southwestern fish extinctions. Although habitat destruction is the cause of several population losses, interactions with introduced mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) are responsible for reduction of topminnows through much of their native range. A series of laboratory and field experiments indicated that predation of juvenile topminnows by mosquitofish is a major factor in decline of the species. For lack of evidence, introduced parasites or diseases, hybridization, physiological stress, and resource competition are all dismissed as probable mechanisms of extirpation.

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