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Big Spring spinedace and associated fish populations and habitat conditions in Condor Canyon, Meadow Valley Wash, Nevada

Open-File Report 2011-1072

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
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Abstract

Executive Summary: This project was designed to document habitat conditions and populations of native and non-native fish within the 8-kilometer Condor Canyon section of Meadow Valley Wash, Nevada, with an emphasis on Big Spring spinedace (Lepidomeda mollispinis pratensis). Other native fish present were speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) and desert sucker (Catostomus clarki). Big Spring spinedace were known to exist only within this drainage and were known to have been extirpated from a portion of their former habitat located downstream of Condor Canyon. Because of this extirpation and the limited distribution of Big Spring spinedace, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed this species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1985. Prior to our effort, little was known about Big Spring spinedace populations or life histories and habitat associations. In 2008, personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia River Research Laboratory began surveys of Meadow Valley Wash in Condor Canyon. Habitat surveys characterized numerous variables within 13 reaches, thermologgers were deployed at 9 locations to record water temperatures, and fish populations were surveyed at 22 individual sites. Additionally, fish were tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, which allowed movement and growth information to be collected on individual fish. The movements of tagged fish were monitored with a combination of recapture events and stationary in-stream antennas, which detected tagged fish. Meadow Valley Wash within Condor Canyon was divided by a 12-meter (m) waterfall known as Delmue Falls. About 6,100 m of stream were surveyed downstream of the falls and about 2,200 m of stream were surveyed upstream of the falls. Although about three-quarters of the surveyed stream length was downstream of Delmue Falls, the highest densities and abundance of native fish were upstream of the falls. Big Spring spinedace and desert sucker populations were highest near the upper end of Condor Canyon, where a tributary known as Kill Wash, and several springs, contribute flow and moderate high and low water temperature. Kill Wash and the area around its confluence with Meadow Valley Wash appeared important for spawning of all three native species. Detections of PIT-tagged fish indicated that there were substantial movements to this area during the spring. Our surveys included about 700 m of Meadow Valley Wash upstream of Kill Wash. A small falls about 2 m high was about 560 m upstream of Kill Wash. This falls is likely a barrier to upstream fish movement at most flows. Populations of all three native species were found upstream of this small falls. Age-0 fish of all three species were present, indicating successful spawning. The maximum upstream extent of native fish within Meadow Valley Wash was not determined. Our surveys included about 700 m of Meadow Valley Wash upstream of Kill Wash. A small falls about 2 m high was about 560 m upstream of Kill Wash. This falls is likely a barrier to upstream fish movement at most flows. Populations of all three native species were found upstream of this small falls. Age-0 fish of all three species were present, indicating successful spawning. The maximum upstream extent of native fish within Meadow Valley Wash was not determined. A population of non-native rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) was found within the 2,000 m of stream immediately downstream of Delmue Falls. Non-native crayfish were very common both upstream and downstream of Delmue Falls. We were not able to quantify crayfish populations, but they compose a significant portion of the biomass of aquatic species in Condor Canyon. There were some distinctive habitat features that may have favored native fish upstream of Delmue Falls. Upstream of the falls, water temperatures were moderated by inputs from springs, turbidity was lower, pool habitat was more prevalent, substrate heterogeneity was higher, and there was less fine sediment than

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Big Spring spinedace and associated fish populations and habitat conditions in Condor Canyon, Meadow Valley Wash, Nevada
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2011-1072
Year Published:
2011
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
Description:
viii, 77 p.; Appendices
Number of Pages:
116
Country:
United States
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
N