The largest population of endangered humpback chub Gila cypha inhabits the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam and the lower 14 km of the Little Colorado River (LCR), Arizona. Currently, adults from both rivers spawn and their progenies grow and recruit to adulthood primarily within the LCR, where we studied G. cypha's life history using hoop net capture data. Humpback chub undergo an ontogenesis from diurnally active, vulnerable, nearshore-reliant young-of-the-year (YOY; 30-90 mm total length) into nocturnally active, large-bodied adults (a?Y180 mm TL). During the day, adults primarily resided in deep midchannel pools; however, at night they dispersed inshore amongst the higher densities of YOY conspecifics. Many YOY G. cypha shifted to nocturnal habitats that provided greater cover, possibly, to avoid inshore invading adults. These findings mirror predator-prey scenarios described in other freshwater assemblages, but do not refute other plausible hypotheses. Gila cypha piscivorous activity may escalate in hoop nets, which can confine fish of disparate sizes together; adults were significantly associated with YOY conspecifics and small dead fish in hoop nets at night and eight G. cypha (156-372 mm TL) regurgitated and/or defecated other fish body parts during handling following capture. Gila cypha can definitely be piscivorous given the opportunity, but the magnitude of their piscivorous activity in the wild is debatable.
Additional Publication Details
Ontogenesis of endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha) in the Little Colorado River, Arizona