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Vital rates of a burgeoning population of Humpback Chub in western Grand Canyon

April 14, 2023

The Colorado River ecosystem has experienced habitat alterations and non-native species invasions, and as a result, many of its native species have experienced extirpations, abundance declines, and range constrictions. Despite these pitfalls, Humpback Chub, Gila cypha, have persisted and, in the last 10-15 years, expanded their range to become abundant in western Grand Canyon, a river segment in which it had been rare for the prior three decades. Here we analyze a 6-year mark-recapture study from a fixed monitoring reach in western Grand Canyon and provide the first estimates of survival and growth (vital rates) for this relatively ‘new’ group of Humpback Chub. We compare vital rates in western Grand Canyon to two life history forms (residents and migrants, which represent fast and slow life history trajectories, respectively) from the more established Little Colorado River (LCR) aggregation in eastern Grand Canyon. Compared to LCR-migrants and LCR-residents, Humpback Chub in western Grand Canyon had intermediate values for apparent survival, growth, and asymptotic length. Relatively high survival of subadults coupled with fast growth allows for rapid population growth in western Grand Canyon. However, a large cohort in 2017 failed to lead to noticeable increases in adults. Seasonal survival patterns were distinct in all three groups, and apparent survival was lowest in western Grand Canyon during spring months. Adult Humpback Chub in western Grand Canyon were mobile and had a high probability of transience (i.e., just passing through the reach) and temporary emigration, demonstrating the need for future movement studies in western Grand Canyon to better distinguish emigration from survival. We discuss how observations are related to disparate temperature regimes experienced by the three groups, and if(how) the relationship between metabolism and temperature influences vital rates within the river network.

Publication Year 2023
Title Vital rates of a burgeoning population of Humpback Chub in western Grand Canyon
DOI 10.1002/tafs.10415
Authors Maria C. Dzul, Charles Yackulic, Mariah Aurelia Giardina, David R. Van Haverbeke, Michael D. Yard
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70243363
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center