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Local News

Declining Groundwater Altering Fish Species

Water DropA new study has found that declining groundwater levels within Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado are dramatically altering the diversity of fish species in the region, and the makeup of the streams and rivers they populate within the Great Plains.

In the last 65 years alone, 350 miles of streams have been lost. By 2060, Kansas State University Associate Professor of Biology Keith Gido estimates another 180 miles will vanish – and the diversity of fish species will continue to decline as larger rivers become smaller streams.

Using data from 1950 through 2010, researchers at Kansas State and partner institutions have established links between a declining water table, river fragmentation and stream loss, and the availability of fish species – with large river fish that need extra space to reproduce, being replaced by smaller stream fish.

Gido says Kansas has approximately 150 species of fish with the shoal chub, Arkansas River shiner and peppered chub just a few of the fish at risk.

Gido also says fish play a much more important role than satisfying our recreational need to go fishing.

Gido says opportunities exist for good fish management and conservation practices to be implemented to help re-populate threatened species. In addition, advances in agriculture, specifically high-efficiency irrigation techniques, are resulting in less groundwater being used in the region.

(Information courtesy K-State Audio News Service.)

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