If this plan doesn't work, however, pupfish might be approaching a "California Condor moment," the ecologist says. The last wild California condor was captured in 1987 and placed in a breeding program that totalled 22 birds - the entire condor population. But the nearly thirty years of condor conservation efforts appear to be making an impact, with roughly 230 birds having returned to their home ranges.
Compared with the 5-year-long maturation of condors, pupfish grow into adults much quicker, the scientist points out, which may help a captive fish population expand more swiftly.
"Somehow, this handsome little fish has heroically persisted in the harsh desert environment through thousands of years of drastic climate warming and droughts," Beissinger says in a statement. "Should the human condition ever arrive at this point after another century of increasing carbon dioxide emissions and climate warming, we may need someone to help us out of our hole."