, Volume 12, Issue 10, pp 2043-2056

Ecological evaluation of local extinction: the case of two genera of endemic Mexican fish, Zoogoneticus and Skiffia

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Abstract

The Goodeidae is a family of endemic fish from central Mexico. Populations of several species are declining in the wild and two have been reported extinct; Skiffia francesae and Zoogoneticus tequila. Both species were native to just one locality in the Ameca basin. It is difficult to infer the causes of extinction, since limnological data from Teuchitlán prior to the extinction events are not available, and there are no replicate populations. As an alternative approach, we explored the potential links between key environmental variables and events of local extinction of any species in the two genera (four Skiffia spp. and two Zoogoneticus spp.). In 14 localities known to harbour populations of fish of at least one of the six focal species, we conducted limnological surveys in the rainy and in the dry season, and quantified population densities of endemic and introduced fish. In addition, we quantified the concentration of agricultural pollutants in water and mud samples taken from every locality in the dry season. We found that all the focal species face some conservation threat, but we also discovered an extremely small population of the reputedly extinct Zoogoneticus tequila; in contrast, Skiffia francesae was not found. Eutrophication and habitat fragmentation appear to be the main threats to the focal species, with habitat fragmentation exponentially reducing population size and driving populations into refuges where they face stochastic extinction.