Changes in fish populations in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande




Garrett, Gary P.
Edwards, Robert J.

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Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute


The Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande suffer from environmental degradation that has negatively impacted native fish populations and their distributions. Macrhybopsis aestivalis (speckled chub), Notropis jemezanus (Rio Grande shiner), Rhinichthys cataractae (longnose dace) and Cycleptus elongatus (blue sucker) populations appear to have suffered recent declines. Although diminished water quantity is likely an important factor in these declines, related changes in channel morphology precipitated by massive stands of Arundo donax (giant reed) and Tamarix sp. (salt cedar) may also be responsible. These invasive exotics have essentially channelized the river, disrupted normal sediment distribution and reduced shallow, low-velocity habitats. Much of the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande are devoid of sandy sediment and most riffles are now composed of gravel and cobble.


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Garrett, G.P. and R.J. Edwards. 2014. Changes in fish populations in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. Pages 396–408 in Proceedings of the sixth symposium on the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert region (C.A. Hoyt and J. Karges, editors). Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Fort Davis, TX.