, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 59-67

Feeding and fate of wild larval razorback sucker

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The razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) is disappearing throughout its native range in the Colorado River basin of western North America. The largest remaining wild population in Lake Mohave, Arizona-Nevada, has shown no recruitment since the 1950s. Although annual spawning is successful and larvae are seasonally abundant, no juveniles have been collected in recent decades. To evaluate the potential role of food availability in determining fate of larvae, fish and zooplankton samples were taken in 1985 from the reservoir and an adjacent, isolated backwater in which larvae were naturally produced. Food availability and primary dietary constituents were similar in both habitats. Reservoir larvae selectedBosmina spp. (Cladocera) and apparently avoided Copepoda, while larvae from the backwater selectedBosmina, but avoided Rotifera. Larvae from both places showed evidence of selection for certain sizes of zooplankters, but preferred sizes differed between habitats. These differences were neither attributable to larval size nor zooplankton community structure. Nutritional factors such as type, number, or size of available foods do not explain disappearance of larval razorback suckers from Lake Mohave, since larvae survive to far greater ages and size in the backwater. Predation by introduced fishes appears a significant cause of larval mortality.