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Re: More questions on the Exotic Removal Program

On Mon, 29 Jun 1998, Samuel J. Petrie wrote:

> I would like to start by saying that I think that the exotics removal
> program is a great idea IF the intent is to raise money and to gain
> knowledge about the best ways to capture and transport live fish. However, I
> seem to sense the feelings among some members that we are achieving a small
> ecological victory for native fish by the removal of exotic cichlids from
> the canals of south Florida.  Maybe before we jump to such a conclusion a
> few questions should be asked.
I think small is the operative word there.  In the longer term exotic fish
removal efforts that are not sustained make no difference since as soon as you
stop they come right back.  This is a common criticism I deal with from
professionals with my work in Ash Meadows Nevada.  My personal goals with
these trips are several fold.  In part to try and demonstrate that removing
exotic fish does make a difference to native fish populations.  This requires
a more longerish term approach and a little bit of quantification.  I am
hoping to start a specific project later this year to more thoroughly test
that hypothesis.  My hope is not to try and get folks out there every weekend
collecting non natives, but when major renovations occur, such as habitat
restoration and rotenone treatments for bass or tilapia that efforts will be
made to remove all the exotics, not just the piscivorous ones.  Many folks
don't seem to think a damnbusia, molly, or guppy have much affect on natives. 
In my experiences they don't tend to cause extinctions, but they do somewhat
depress native fish numbers.  Unless every last exotic is taken out removal
achieves little other than shortterm benefits.  However, I think the other
major benefit is getting aquarists and other folks out into the wilds
experiencing native fish and by working their butts off they start to get more
of a feel of stewardship and appreciation for the place and it's inhabitants. 
It starts to become a part of them.  One also gets that warm fuzzy feeling
about contributing a little bit more to the world by trying to help the
pupfish.  I think the educational / personal side of things is where the
greatest benefits come from. 

Peter Unmack