Flannelmouth sucker, Catostomus latipinnis, a fish endemic to the Colorado River basin in the western United States, appears to experience poor recruitment to adult size in the Colorado River, downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. Lack or impermanence of rearing areas for young-of-year (YOY) fish is hypothesized to be the problem. Knowing the importance of tributary mouths as rearing areas in other river systems, we studied use of the mouth of the Paria River, a tributary of the Colorado River, by YOY flannelmouth suckers, and the availability of rearing area in the mouth at different flow levels in the Colorado River in 1996 and 1997. We also examined the relationship between flash floods in the Paria River and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of YOY in the Paria River between 1991 and 1996. Maximum mean daily discharge in the Paria River was inversely correlated with CPUE of YOY flannelmouth suckers (Spearman Rho = -0.9856, p = 0.0003) during their critical rearing period (15 March-30 June). Thus, it appears that YOY flannelmouth suckers rear longer in the Paria River in years when flash flooding is minimal. Recruitment of YOY flannelmouth suckers at the Paria River may also be improved by enhancing pool formation during spring and summer rearing seasons. YOY flannelmouth sucker was captured in a pool created by high Colorado River flows (??? 336 m3/s) that inundated the mouth of the Paria River during spring and summer, 1996. In 1997, high flows (about 550-750 m3/s) in the Colorado River during winter and spring initially inundated the Paria River and formed a pool in the mouth. However, these high flows eventually caused 0.5-1.0 m of suspended sediment from the incoming Paria River to deposit in the mouth. Thus, despite higher flows than 1996, the slackwater area formed only occasionally in 1997. Differences in pool formation between 1996 and 1997 demonstrate that pool formation cannot be inferred solely from Colorado River flows. ?? 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Additional publication details
Effects of pool formation and flash flooding on relative abundance of young-of-year flannelmouth suckers in the Paria River, Arizona