Conservation of the Conchos Trout: a white paper on history of its discovery, report on its status, and an urgent plea for action




Camarena Rosales, Faustino
Cutter, Ralph F.
De Los Santos Camarillo, Ana Belia
Espinosa Pérez, Héctor
García de León, Francisco
Hendrickson, Dean A.
Kuhajda, Bernard
Mayden, Richard L.
Neely, David A.
Pfiefer, Frank

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Dean A. Hendrickson


A broad-scale survey of potential trout habitats in upper tributaries of the Río Conchos of Chihuahua, México resulted in the re-discovery in 2005 of a long-lost native, endemic, and now endangered, undescribed trout species that we call the “Conchos Trout.” We are currently in the process of scientifically describing this rare trout, the only native Mexican trout known from an Atlantic drainage. Our extensive field efforts to date clearly indicate that this species was formerly much more widely distributed historically. Though surveys should continue, our extensive field surveys found only one small isolated and extremely vulnerable population, leaving us less than optimistic that many other, if any, additional populations will be found. Persistence of this new critically endangered endemic Conchos Trout clearly requires rapid conservation action. Our consensus expert opinion is that we cannot over-emphasize the urgency of protection for this critically endangered population of this unique trout, and so we have produced this “white paper” in hopes that it might encourage others to join us in initiating appropriate conservation programs. The potentially viable population is restricted to a short reach of a very small stream where it and another newly discovered, undescribed fish species, a sucker (and likely another unique taxon), could be relatively easily protected, studied and managed. Additionally, adjoining arroyos where the species recently occurred offer the possibility of restoring native fish populations to them following appropriate protection and habitat restoration efforts. All members of our highly qualified and diversely specialized, binational “Truchas Mexicanas” team stand prepared to join collaborators and invest personal resources in hands-on actions to help this new species persist. We recommend immediate establishment of a small reserve centered around currently occupied habitat and adjacent streams having suitable habitat, combined with education and compensation of local residents for their cooperation with reserve management. We recognize that we are largely ignorant of the local political and cultural systems via which conservation actions will have to proceed and are limited with regard to our ability to raise funds. We thus hope that readers of this white paper will add their financial and in-kind support and additional expertise to help us conserve the Conchos Trout!


originally published at See also subsequent publication with updates as a book chapter: Hendrickson, Dean A., D.A. Neely, Richard L. Mayden, K. Anderson, J.E. Brooks, Faustino Camarena-Rosales, R. Cutter, et al. 2007. “Conservation of Mexican Native Trout and the Discovery, Status, Protection and Recovery of the Conchos Trout, the First Native Oncorhynchus of the Atlantic Drainage in Mexico.” In Studies of North American Desert Fishes in Honor of E. P. (Phil) Pister, Conservationist. Monterrey, Nuevo León, México: Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas.

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Camarena-Rosales, Faustino, R. Cutter, A.B. de Los Santos, H. Espinosa-P‚rez, F.J. Garc¡a de Le¢n, Dean A. Hendrickson, B.R. Kuhajda, et al. 2006. “Conservation of the Conchos Trout: A White Paper on History of Its Discovery, Report on Its Status, and an Urgent Plea for Action”.