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Relative distribution and abundance of fishes and crayfish in 2010 and 2014 prior to saltcedar (Tamarix ssp.) removal in the Amargosa River Canyon, southeastern California

July 22, 2016

The Amargosa River Canyon, located in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California, contains the longest perennial reach of the Amargosa River. Because of its diverse flora and fauna, it has been designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and a Wild and Scenic River by the Bureau of Land Management. A survey of fishes conducted in summer 2010 indicated that endemic Amargosa River pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis amargosae) and speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus spp.) were abundant and occurred throughout the Amargosa River Canyon. The 2010 survey reported non-native red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) captures were significantly higher, whereas pupfish captures were lower, in areas dominated by non-native saltcedar (Tamarix ssp.). Based on the 2010 survey, it was hypothesized that the invasion of saltcedar could result in a decrease in native species. In an effort to maintain and enhance native fish populations, the Bureau of Land Management removed saltcedar from a 1,550 meter reach of stream on the Amargosa River in autumn 2014 and autumn 2015. Prior to the removal of saltcedar, a survey of fishes and crayfish using baited minnow traps was conducted in the treatment reach to serve as a baseline for future comparisons with post-saltcedar removal surveys. During the 2014 survey, 1,073 pupfish and 960 speckled dace were captured within the treatment reach. Catch per unit effort of pupfish and speckled dace in the treatment reach was less in 2014 than in 2010, although differences could be owing to seasonal variation in capture probability. Non-native mosquitofish catch per unit effort decreased from 2010 to 2014; however, the catch per unit effort of crayfish increased from 2010 to 2014. Future monitoring efforts of this reach should be conducted at the same time period to account for potential seasonal fluctuations of abundance and distribution of fishes and crayfish. A more robust study design that accounts for variation in capture probability could be implemented to quantify the effects of habitat modifications on abundance of fishes and crayfish.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Relative distribution and abundance of fishes and crayfish in 2010 and 2014 prior to saltcedar (<em>Tamarix</em> ssp.) removal in the Amargosa River Canyon, southeastern California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161112
Authors Mark E. Hereford
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2016-1112
Index ID ofr20161112
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center