[acn-l] NANFA Conservation Research Grant Program

Christopher Scharpf (ichthos at charm.net)
Wed, 26 Jul 2000 14:36:24 -0400

July 26, 2000

For immediate release.

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 temperate 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, through the new research grant program, all NANFA members, through their
dues and other support for the club, 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 needed
research."

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
techniques."

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, www.nanfa.org.

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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