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UNR Researcher: Monster Fish Face Extinction

PHOTO: Without help from humans, monster fish such as the white sturgeon face the possibility of extinction, according to Zeb Hogan, a conservation biologist at the University of Nevada - Reno. Photo courtesy of Zeb Hogan, University of Nevada-Reno.
PHOTO: Without help from humans, monster fish such as the white sturgeon face the possibility of extinction, according to Zeb Hogan, a conservation biologist at the University of Nevada - Reno. Photo courtesy of Zeb Hogan, University of Nevada-Reno.
March 25, 2015

RENO, Nevada - Some of the biggest freshwater fish in North America face certain extinction without human intervention, according to a University of Nevada-Reno researcher.

Conservation biologist Zeb Hogan, whose research is featured in an exhibition opening this week at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, said sturgeon and other huge freshwater fish face several threats.

"Habitat degradation, over-harvest, invasive species, habitat fragmentation from things like dams, and then climate change," he said. "So there are a number of different threats, and often it's more than one threat that each species faces."

In North America, Hogan said, nearly 40 percent of freshwater fish are threatened and 61 species are presumed extinct. He added that globally, approximately 70 percent of monster fish species, which can weigh several hundred pounds, are considered threatened.

Hogan said he hopes to draw attention to the challenges monster fish face, and that more resources can be directed toward their survival.

"We need to understand these fish in order to understand how to protect them, how to better protect them," he said, "especially in the face of all the changes that we're making to aquatic environment."

Damming and drought have hurt many species of fish in the Colorado River, Hogan said, including the now-endangered Colorado pikeminnow, which despite its name is a monster fish that can grow up to 6 feet in length and weigh upwards of 100 pounds.

Information on Hogan's research is online at unr.edu.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV