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Three Species Distribution on Western Slope, CO


January 2011 - June 2012


Declines of three species, roundtail chub Gila robusta, flannelmouth sucker Catostomus latipinnis, and bluehead sucker Catostomus discobolus, are extensive throughout Colorado River Basin. In 2002, an exhaustive review of available literature and collection records suggested each species presently occupied 50% or less of its historical range and extant populations were declining in many localities (Bezzerides and Bestgen 2002). A main recommendation of the summary report was to conduct population surveys where current information is lacking. Basic presence/absence information is incomplete for many higher elevation tributary streams, especially in the Upper Colorado River Basin where density of perennial tributaries is higher. Such information will be needed to develop species conservation plans. An additional need was to identify tributary streams that maintain resident and transient populations.
We propose to conduct field sampling in a set of Colorado streams and rivers to fill a portion of the information gap for the three subject fishes. Existing field sampling is relatively extensive in some portions of warmwater habitat due to activities of the Recovery Program for Endangered Fishes in the Upper Colorado River Basin. However, information is less comprehensive in many stream reaches that transition between exclusively warmwater fish assemblages in downstream areas and upstream reaches dominated by coldwater salmonids. Examples of such reaches include the Colorado River from Glenwood Spring downstream to DeBeque Canyon, and the White River from upstream of Kenney Reservoir to near Meeker, Colorado. Tributary fish populations are also poorly known in many reaches. The exact reaches to be sampled and the extent of sampling in mainstem versus tributaries will be discussed with biologists and other researchers. Kevin Thompson has worked with CSU investigators Dana Winkelman and Kevin Bestgen to develop the initial ideas presented here and anticipates continued close involvement regarding aspects of study design, field work, and student supervision throughout the course of this project.
Our main sampling approach would be raft-based electrofishing for larger juvenile and adult life stages and seine sampling for early life stages. We would employ mostly presence-absence and catch-effort type sampling for all species present in the system and would allow estimation of distribution of adult and juveniles fishes and catch-effort abundance indices. Potential reproduction would be documented with seine-sampling for early life stages. We plan to gather extensive information on water temperature that may assist with understanding fish distribution patterns, both from a historical and present basis. That information would be gathered via installation and downloading of recording temperature monitors through the reaches of interest so fine-scale temperature patterns can be correlated with fish distributions and areas of reproduction.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 235

Phd Students: 161

Post Docs: 57

University Staff: 261

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 685

Scientific Publications: 1884

Presentations: 4375



Funding Agencies

  • Colorado Division of Wildlife


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey