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Environmental Conditions Utilized by Endangered Moapa Dace While Spawning


October 2011 - December 2017


Moapa Dace Moapa coriacea is an endangered cyprinid endemic to the Warm Springs area of Clark County in southeastern Nevada. Moapa Dace were federally listed as endangered because of their limited range, low abundance, and competition with introduced species. Spawning by Moapa Dace has never been documented; consequently, the environmental conditions they require for this critical aspect of their life history are unknown. Knowledge of Moapa Dace spawning ecology would provide vital data for managers to manage habitat and to identify factors that induce spawning in captivity. Twelve underwater cameras were deployed in the uppermost reach of Plummer Stream to attempt to capture Moapa Dace spawning activity. Camera sites were selected systematically and represented a variety of conditions available. I quantified the available environment by dividing the field of view in front of each camera into a grid and estimating size and embeddedness of substrate, depth, stream velocity, and cover categories in each cell of every grid. Video was recorded from March through May 2012 and then watched to identify grids over which spawning occurred and their associated characteristics. From over 4,000 10-min video clips selected for analysis, 13 spawning events were identified. Moapa Dace displayed behaviors consistent with broadcasting cyprinids. For spawning, Moapa Dace selected depths ranging from 30-34 cm, water velocities from 0.11-0.17 m/sec, cobble substrate, and instream overhead cover. I could not find that they selected for any category of embeddedness or cover (i.e. open water, instream velocity shelter, instream overhead cover, or above stream overhead cover). This information will further the understanding of Moapa Dace spawning ecology in the wild. Moreover, replicating these conditions in captivity will aid in initial efforts to breed Moapa Dace in captivity. This work was prepared for a thesis, and a peer-reviewed final report was published in December 2015. This work is currently under review for journal publication with the North American Journal of Aquaculture. Partners include the USFWS.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Ruggirello, J. E., S. A. Bonar, O. G. Feuerbacher, L. Simons, and C. Powers. 2015. Spawning Ecology and Captive Husbandry of Endangered Moapa Dace. Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Research Report, Tucson.


  • Ruggirello, Jack E. 2014. Spawning Ecology and Captive Husbandry of Endangered Moapa Dace. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.


  • Ruggirello, J. E., S. A. Bonar, and O. G. Feuerbacher. 2013. Spawning ecology of the critically endangered Moapa Dace revealed through underwater videography. 143nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 8-12, 2013. CONTRIBUTED.
  • Ruggirello, J., S. Bonar, and O. Feuerbacher. 2013. Spawning ecology of the endangered Moapa dace revealed through underwater videography. 45th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 20-24, Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • Ruggirello, J., S. Bonar and O. Feuerbacher. 2013. An attempt to spawn endangered Moapa dace in captivity. 45th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 20-24, Flagstaff, Arizona.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 245

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1948

Presentations: 4253



Funding Agencies

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey