University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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Jordan  D  McMahon  : Fishes

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Jordan D McMahon is studying the Devil's Hole Pupfish

I have been working on the Devils Hole Pupfish project since the beginning of January, 2014. Work has entailed sorting through and scanning old files on the pupfish that were compiled over the years by Dr. Robert Miller, who started work on the pupfish during his doctoral work in the 1940’s. I send relevant files along to a journalist named Kevin Brown, who was commissioned by the NPS to write a book titled: The Environmental History of the Devil’s Hole Pupfish. The Devil’s Hole Pupfish is a small, 1 inch long fish in the Cyprinidontidae family that has evolved in small underground hot springs (92⁰ F) and is endemic to the Death Valley region. The fish is extremely rare; at most the population consisted of several hundred individuals. This project is meant to shed light on the ups and downs of conservation efforts put forth in efforts of saving the pupfish from extinction. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, this unique fish was being threatened by habitat loss due to exploitation and depletion of water tables by agricultural pumping near the Devil’s Hole area of California and Nevada. As a Conservation Ecology major, this project is especially important to me because it highlights the struggles and small yet substantial victories of conservation efforts, as well as serving as an amazing educational opportunity for future generations of conservationists.