Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Studying the Ozarks cavefish

Here's an excerpt from a story on The Joplin Globe's website that I found interesting: Scientists studying rare Ozarks cavefish.

The fish, found only in the Ozarks west and south of Springfield, is about
2 inches long. It is blind, using sense organs on the sides of its head, body
and tail to find food. It lacks pigment. Missouri lists the fish as endangered.
The species, at the federal level, is viewed as threatened.Because they are so
hard to find and observe in their habitat, not much is known about them, but
through a two-year research project for Missouri State University and the
Missouri Department of Conservation, Stephens is attempting to shine a light on
a species that prefers the dark.“There are a lot of unknowns with the cavefish,”
he said. “We don’t have a firm grasp of how far they migrate within their
region. We don’t know how interconnected the sites are where they live. More
genetic testing is needed to see how related they are from site to site. When it
comes to Ozark cavefish, there are lots of questions.”Stephens is the lead
researcher in a study titled “Ozark Cavefish Distribution and Life History
Related to Mining in Jasper and Newton Counties.” It is being funded by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. His job is to find cavefish and then ask the property
owner to help protect the habitat.

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