This article was originally published on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Nature and society depend on groundwater to sustain aquatic ecosystems and human livelihoods, but local and regional groundwater supplies are dwindling where human water extraction exceeds aquifer recharge. Although groundwater depletion is a global problem, ecological consequences for aquatic species such as fishes are rarely examined.
We demonstrate that more than half a century of groundwater pumping from the United States High Plains Aquifer has been associated with collapses of large-stream fishes and expansion of small-stream fishes where hydrologic conditions were altered most. Projections indicate that these habitats will continue to shrink over the next half-century if groundwater pumping practices are not modified. Our findings highlight a mechanism for biotic homogenization with global implications given the worldwide extraction of groundwater…”