Fagan, W.F., C.M. Kennedy, and P.J. Unmack. 2005. Quantifying rarity, losses, and risks for lower Colorado River Basin fishes: Implications for conservation listing. Conservation Biology. 19: 1872-1882.

We examined spatial distributions of fishes native to the lower basin of the Colorado River (25 species) at three scales to determine percent decline from historical distributions based on a regional biodiversity database. We cumulated records from 1843 to 1980 to develop a “historical distribution” for each species and used those occurrences recorded from 1981 to 1998 as “modern” records. We then contrasted historical and modern distributions to (1) quantify losses in spatial distribution; (2) determine how strongly these losses and fragmentation patterns corresponded to the perceived risk of extinction of each species, as represented by its status under the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species; and (3) update extinction risk rankings for 15 fishes endemic to the lower Colorado Basin according to the IUCN criteria. Based on presence and absence data, fish fauna of the lower Colorado Basin have suffered massive distributional losses. On average, ranges of extant species have diminished more than 45% relative to their historical distribution, and 35% of species have lost 50% or more of their occurrences. We provide nine new IUCN rankings and six updates to reflect more accurately the heightened imperilment of these species. Based on our new rankings, 7 of the 15 lower Colorado Basin endemics are critically endangered, 1 is endangered, 2 are vulnerable, and 1 is already extinct. We categorize the remaining 2 endemics as lower risk. This work demonstrates the utility of matching quantitative spatial metrics such as the scale-area slope statistic to extinction risk criteria for species whose persistence is strongly influenced by spatial distribution.