NANFA To Award Up To $1000 For Conservation Research
The North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) will award up to $1000
for research that can aid the conservation of North America's native fishes,
particularly those that are threatened or endangered, announced NANFA
president Bruce Stallsmith, Ph.D. Dr. Stallsmith added that academic
researchers, conservation groups, and aquarium hobbyists are all eligible
for the award.
"Hobbyists and researchers alike are concerned about the continued survival
of our native fishes," Dr. Stallsmith said. "This program, however, lets
all NANFA members play a part in actually doing something about it."
Many of North America's roughly 1,060 fish species are either extinct or
fighting for survival, Dr. Stallsmith said. Currently, 40 species and
subspecies of American fishes are extinct. About 34 percent of the remaining
native fish species are either endangered or threatened with extinction, or
at risk of becoming endangered or threatened by minor disturbances to their
habitat. Even abundant species are in peril because North America's fresh
waters are among the most degraded habitats on earth. In fact, North
America's freshwater fish and
other freshwater animals are dying out at a rate five times faster than
those on land.
"North America's ecosystems are dying out as fast as those in tropical
forests, yet few people are even aware of it," he said. Dr. Stallsmith added
that all NANFA members will further much needed research to conserve the
continent's native fishes. In 2001, a minimum of $1000 will be awarded to
the most qualified applicant or applicants. The award may also be divided
among one or more individuals.
"The beauty of this program is that even members not involved in
conservation research can still support it," said Dr. Stallsmith. "Their
contributions--provided through their yearly dues--will help fund some badly
Dr. Stallsmith explained that NANFA is a partnership between researchers,
fisheries biologists, and aquarium hobbyists. For example, hobbyists often
accompany professionals on collecting or surveying missions. NANFA member
Peter Unmack, himself a doctoral candidate, often leads trips to remove
harmful exotics from the habitats of endangered desert pupfish and
springfish. Similarly, the group's quarterly journal, American Currents,
features articles by both professionals and hobbyists. A free copy of
American Currents is
available at the organization's website, www.nanfa.org.
"It's been a two way street," Dr. Stallsmith said. "Researchers have taken
hobbyist observations from our journal and used them to refine breeding and
research programs of their own. And our home aquarist members have also used
research accounts to improve on their collecting, breeding, and fish keeping
Dr. Stallsmith added that the new conservation research award advances this
tradition of cooperation between professionals and hobbyists. Award
recipients will be asked to describe their research findings in a
non-technical article for American Currents, and are invited to present
their findings at the NANFA Annual Convention.
"My only regret is that we can't award an even greater amount," Dr.
Stallsmith said. "Still, NANFA can make an important contribution to
conserving our native fish species."
To qualify for the award, applicants must submit to NANFA a proposal of two
double-spaced pages, a budget and timeline for the research, a one-page
resume, and a letter of recommendation from an academic professor, research
advisor or someone familiar with the applicant's background and research
history. Applicants must also be a member of NANFA and can opt to join when
they submit their proposals. The deadline for applying is January 15, 2001.
Additional details on the award are available from NANFA's website,
Questions about the award may be addressed to Dr. Bruce Stallsmith,
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama in Huntsville,
Huntsville, AL 35899. Dr. Stallsmith may also be contacted by telephone at
256-890-6992 or by e-mail at fundulus_at_hotmail.com.
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