UCLA Study Unveils Genetics of Endangered Southern California Stickleback Fish, Offering Path to Restoration

As California’s water resources dwindle and urban areas expand, a species of fish that is rarely heard of is on the brink of homelessness. The unarmored threespine stickleback fish, which is highly adapted to thrive in California’s unpredictable waterways and considered by scientists a model species for studying evolution and conservationists’ top concern, has been on the endangered species list since 1970.

In an effort to save this subspecies, researchers at UCLA have sequenced its genome and identified distinct populations in Southern California that may be able to help guide interventions. Published in Molecular Ecology, the study was conducted in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Low-plate stickleback fish are doing well in coastal lagoons, but unarmored sticklebacks are not doing well elsewhere,” said co-author David Jacobs, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “They are very near to dying out completely in the upper Santa Clara River, the location in which they were first discovered and described by scientists. Re-establishing more populations in the wild that represent the genetic lineages we have in Southern California is how we can make sure our genetically distinct sticklebacks persist.”

The findings showed that coastal and upstream populations have differences that merit efforts for the protection of their genetic uniqueness – an especially important factor taken into account as conservation efforts have previously relied on an appraisal based on morphology or shape rather than genetics alone. These threespine sticklebacks are typically 2 inches long, coming in three varieties: armored, low-armored and unarmored (which is native to California). Its endangerment can be attributed to stream channelization, urban development, drought, wildfires, and other factors.

“Our study is the first to document that Southern California’s unarmored stickleback populations are genetically distinct and in urgent need of better protection,” said first author Rachel Turba, who led the research as a doctoral student “Existing conservation measures have served us well for decades when genetic data was not available and even now, for the most part, they have helped steer focus for our most endangered population in the upper Santa Clara, but with this new and future genomic data we can do even better.”

By collecting DNA samples from fish across a wide region ranging from Marin County all the way down to Mexico, two broad genetic groups were identified living respectively inland and near the coasts – with the upstream one increasingly rarer over time due to habitat destruction in Southern California’s rivers and streams which used to house them before it dried up or was drained for urban expansion purposes.

“People are big on restoring trout, and that should definitely be done,” Jacobs said. “But it is probably a lot easier and a good first step to that end to restore unarmored stickleback populations because of the smaller amount of free-flowing water required.”

The particular adaptations of these sticklebacks allowed them to survive over millennia despite their temporary habitats drying up seasonally – maturing rapidly compared to other types without bony plates needed for armor against predators found only in larger bodies of water, but enough specimens managed survival until rain brought new water sources.

Yet now these environments they occupy are more unstable than ever before; however new modifications could potentially create safe habitats like low-flow streams away from exotic species where they could live again – allowing us not only to preserve an integral part of nature but also utilize them as an educational tool into evolution.

Related Posts

Fantastic Fireworks Celebrations in Los Angeles for July 4th

June 24, 2024

June 24, 2024

Find the Best 4th of July Displays and Parades on This List Culver City Fireworks Show: The Exchange Club of...

Santa Monica CEO Convicted in Landmark Insider Trading Case

June 23, 2024

June 23, 2024

The Case Is Part of a Data-Driven Initiative by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section A federal jury in Los Angeles...

Suspicious Fire Behind Venice AT&T Building Investigated by Authorities

June 23, 2024

June 23, 2024

Witnesses reported seeing a person start the fire, prompting an active investigation Authorities are investigating a fire in Venice that...

American Legion Post 283 Launches Initiative During July 4th Celebrations

June 23, 2024

June 23, 2024

It Seeks to Foster Camaraderie Between the Public and Military Members Through Events Highlighting Medal Recipients, U.S. Service Academies, and...

Sci Fi Museum’s Lease Gets Terminated at Former Sears Building

June 21, 2024

June 21, 2024

The News Comes as a Slew of Controversies Surround the Museum and Its Founder By Zach Armstrong Amid tumultuous setbacks and...

(Video) Sport Fishing and Whale Watching on the Pacific Offered by MDR Sportfishing

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Located Out of Marina del Rey, More Information Can Be Found at mdrsf.com @palisadesnews Operating out of Marina del Rey,...

This Palisadian Will Be the Youngest Ever U.S. Olympian in Beach Volleyball

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Miles Partain, 22, Is One of Several Olympians That Came Out of Pali High By Zach Armstrong Palisadian talent will...

Pride-Colored Towers Vandalized During Pride Month for Two Straight Years in Palisades

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath Stated That the Graffiti Will Be Removed By Zach Armstrong For two consecutive years, pride-colored...

Woman Assaulted with Skateboard on Venice Boardwalk

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

The Victim Was Identified as a 40-Year-Old-Female By Zach Armstrong LAPD arrested a man who assaulted a woman with a skateboard...

Judge Blocks Barrington Plaza Evictions, Citing Legal Violations

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024

Owner Douglas Emmett Inc. Sought to Evict Nearly 600 Tenants Last Year, Citing Safety Upgrades The eviction of hundreds of...

Brentwood, Palisades, West LA Libraries Closures for Juneteenth

June 18, 2024

June 18, 2024

Upcoming Program and Event Schedules for The Week  Brentwood Library Schedule: We are celebrating Juneteenth this Wednesday, June 19! The...

Yoga Gurus Sentenced for Defrauding Malibu Doctor

June 18, 2024

June 18, 2024

Dr. Sawusch Had a Successful Medical Practice in Pacific Palisades and Amassed Significant Wealth Through Investments A federal judge sentenced...

Texas Man Sentenced to 33 Months for Threatening U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters

June 18, 2024

June 18, 2024

Gaherty Targeted the Congresswoman With Racist and Violent Threats  A Texas man was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison...

Tech Entrepreneur and Developer Company Buy Promenade Shops for $103M: Report

June 18, 2024

June 18, 2024

Acquisitions Include 1202, 1222, 1225, 1232, 1339, and 1344 Third Street Promenade Federal Realty Investment Trust has sold eight parcels...

ATAM to Host Content Creation Camp for Kids

June 17, 2024

June 17, 2024

All Ages Welcome, Popular Among Ages 7-12, With Offerings for Ages 4.5 ATAM is hosting a Content Creation and Editing...