Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 507–521 | Cite as

Flood pulse trophic dynamics of larval fishes in a restored arid-land, river-floodplain, Middle Rio Grande, Los Lunas, New Mexico

  • Hugo A. MagañaEmail author
Research Paper


Rio Grande water is intensively managed and regulated by international and interstate compacts, Native American treaties, local water rights, and federal, state, and local agencies. Legislation and engineering projects in the early twentieth century brought about water impoundment projects and channelization of the Rio Grande which led to the eventual loss of floodplain habitats. In particular, current water management practices in the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) have altered the natural flood regime altering the riparian community and floodplain dynamics which may be causing the demise of many fish species by altering food web processes. The Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus), a federally endangered species, has been classified as an herbivore, detritivore, or carnivore. During low flow conditions H. amarus is primarily an algivore; however, during flood conditions, hydrodynamic scouring reduces or eliminates benthic algal food sources. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize food resources and trophic interactions for H. amarus on a restored floodplain during an extended flood-pulse release from reservoirs using stable isotope analyses (δ13C and δ15N) and paleolimnology techniques. Results from stable isotope ratios indicate that H. amarus obtained carbon primarily from chironomids while aquatic invertebrates (including chironomids) obtained their carbon from macrophytes. Results from the GLIMMIX procedure indicate that the range of isotopic signatures for prey items was much broader at parallel habitats (i.e. floodplain flow parallel to main stem flow) than perpendicular (i.e. floodplain flow perpendicular to main stem flow) or leeward habitats (i.e. leeward sides of island where flow was near zero) indicating a wider selection of food resources. This study suggests that increased duration of floodplain inundation in the MRG provides vital habitats for spawning, nursery, and recruitment of threatened and endangered fish species. A combination of allochthonous and autochthonous resources best describes the nutrient and energy transfers for the Los Lunas, NM restored floodplain.


Hybognathus amarus Floodplain Flood pulse Stable isotopes 



This study was funded by MRGESACP Habitat Restoration Committee (02-IA-11221602-061 Mod 11 BOR). Many thanks to Drs. Rudy King and Scott Baggett (USDAFS, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO) for help analyzing data. Los Lunas ArcGIS map courtesy of Dr. Michael Porter (USBR, Albuquerque, NM). Thanks to Dr. T.F. Turner (University of New Mexico) and D. Snyder (Colorado State University) for assistance in identifying larval fish. Thanks to Dr. Jerry Jacobi (Jacobi and Associates) for identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates. I would like to thank the following people for generously donating their time and efforts to this study; Dr. Darin Law, Wade Wilson, Tom Kennedy, and Matt Carleton. Many thanks to my field and lab crew Nick Kennedy, Ben Zimmerman, Doug Price, and Ariel Muldoon for their tireless efforts. H. amarus were collected under U.S.F.W.S. permit number TE097324-0 (H.A. Magaña) and other fish were collected under New Mexico permit number 3015 (TFT). Products used in this study do not constitute an endorsement by the USDA Forest Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S.D.A. Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research StationAlbuquerqueUSA

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