Feeding and fate of wild larval razorback sucker

  • Paul C. Marsh
  • Daniel R. Langhorst
Full Papers


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.

Key words

Xyrauchen texanus Imperiled fishes Colorado River Zooplankton Food selection Predation Conservation 

References cited

  1. Allan, R.C. & D.L. Roden. 1978. Fish of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Biol. Bull. No. 7, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Reno.Google Scholar
  2. Boreham, P.F.L. & C.E. Ohiagu. 1978. The use of serology in evaluating invertebrate predator-prey relationships: a review. Bull. Entomol. Res. 68: 171–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chesson, J. 1983. The estimation and analysis of preference and its relationship to foraging models. Ecology 64: 1297–1304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Engvall, E. & P. Perlmann. 1978. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, ELISA. J. Immunol. 109: 129–135.Google Scholar
  5. Heusser, C.H., J.W. Stocker & R.H. Gisler. 1981. Methods for binding cells to plastic: application to solid phase immunoassays for cell-surface antigens. Meth. Enzymol. 73: 406–417.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Holden, P.B. 1980.Xyrauchen texanus (Abbott) humpback sucker. pp. 435.In: D.S. Lee, C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister & J.R. Stauffer (ed.) Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes, North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh.Google Scholar
  7. Johnson, J.E. & J.N. Rinne. 1982. The endangered species act and southwestern fishes. Fisheries 7: 1–10.Google Scholar
  8. Langhorst, D.R. 1987. Larval razorback sucker,Xyrauchen texanus, in Lake Mohave, AZ-NV. Proc. Desert Fishes Council 17 (in press).Google Scholar
  9. Lemly, A.D. 1985. Suppression of native fish populations by green sunfish in first-order streams of piedmont North Carolina. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 114: 705–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Loftus, D.H. & P.F. Hulsman. 1986. Predation on larval lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and lake herring (C. artedii) by adult rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 43: 812–818.Google Scholar
  11. Loudermilk, W.E. 1985. Aspects of razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus, Abbott [sic]) life history which help explain their decline. Proc. Desert Fishes Council 13: 67–72.Google Scholar
  12. Marsh, P.C. 1985. Effect of incubation temperature on survival of embryos of native Colorado River fishes. Southwest. Nat. 30: 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Marsh, P.C. 1987. Razorback sucker management in Arizona. Proc. Desert Fishes Council 17 (in press).Google Scholar
  14. McAda, C.W. & R.S. Wydoski. 1980. The razorback sucker,Xyrauchen texanus, in the upper Colorado River basin, 1974–1979. U.S. Fish & Wildl. Serv. Tech. Papers 99: 1–15.Google Scholar
  15. McCarthy, M.S. 1986. Age of imperiled razorback sucker (Pisces, Catostomidae) from Lake Mohave, Arizona-Nevada. M.S. Thesis, Arizona State University, Tempe. 38 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Medel-Ulmer, L. 1983. Movement and reproduction of the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) inhabiting Senator Wash Reservoir, Imperial County, California. Proc. Desert Fishes Council 12: 106.Google Scholar
  17. Meffe, G.K. 1985. Predation and species replacement in American southwestern fishes: a case study. Southwest. Nat. 30: 173–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Meffe, G.K., D.A. Hendrickson, W.L. Minckley & J.N. Rinne. 1983. Factors resulting in decline of the endangered Sonoran topminnowPoeciliopsis occidentalis (Atheriniformes; Poeciliidae) in the United States. Biol. Conserv. 25: 135–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Miller, R.R. 1961. Man and the changing fish fauna of the American Southwest. Pap. Michigan Acad. Sci., Arts Lett. 46: 365–404.Google Scholar
  20. Miller, R.R. 1972. Threatened freshwater fishes of the United States. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 101: 239–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Minckley, W.L. 1983. Status of the razorback sucker,Xyrauchen texanus (Abbott), in the lower Colorado River basin. Southwest. Nat. 28: 165–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Minckley, W.L. & J.E. Deacon. 1968. Southwestern fishes and the enigma of ‘endangered species’. Science 159: 1424–1432.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Minckley, W.L. & E.S. Gustafson. 1982. Early development of the razorback sucker,Xyrauchen texanus (Abbott). Great Bas. Nat. 42: 553–561.Google Scholar
  24. Monroe, D. 1985. The solid-phase enzyme-linked immunospot assay: current and potential applications. Biochem. Technol. 3: 222–229.Google Scholar
  25. Paloheimo, J.E. 1979. Indices of food type preference by a predator. J.Fish. Res. Board Can. 36: 470–473.Google Scholar
  26. Priscu, J.C., J. Verduin & J.E. Deacon. 1980. The fate of biogenic suspensoids in a desert reservoir. pp. 1657–1667.In: H.G. Stephan (ed.) Symp. Surf. Wat. Impoundments ASCE, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  27. Priscu, J.C., J. Verduin & J.E. Deacon. 1982. Primary productivity and nutrient balance in a lower Colorado River reservoir. Arch. Hydrobiol. 94: 1–23.Google Scholar
  28. Selgeby, J.H., W.R. MacCallum & D.V. Swedberg. 1978. Predation by rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) on lake herring (Coregonus artedii) in western Lake Superior. J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 35: 1457–1463.Google Scholar
  29. Strauss. R.E. 1979. Reliability estimates for Ivlev’s electivity index, the forage ratio, and a proposed linear index of food selection. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 108: 344–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Strauss, R.E. 1982. Influence of replicated subsamples and subsample heterogeneity on the linear index of food selection. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 111: 517–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Theilacker, G.H., A.S. Kimball & J.S. Trimmer. 1986. Use of an ELISPOT immunoassay to detect euphausid predation on larval anchovy. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Series 30: 127–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ulmer, L. 1987. Razorback sucker management in California. Proc. Desert Fishes Council 17 (in press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul C. Marsh
    • 1
  • Daniel R. Langhorst
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Environmental Studies and Department of ZoologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations