The decline of native fishes in North America is principally a result of altered habitats, and the impact of mainstream dams has accounted for many of the habitat changes. Diminished turbidity, and introduced nonnative predators were investigated as possible reasons for the decline of endangered razorback suckers Xyrauchen texanus in the Colorado River. In laboratory tests, young razorback suckers selected clear water over two water samples with higher concentrations of suspended sediment. In clear water, however, young razorback suckers were extremely susceptible to predation; native Colorado squawfish Ptychocheilus lucius consumed 90% of test razorback suckers, and nonnative green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus consumed 99.6%. As turbidity increased, razorback sucker predator avoidance improved and differences in predator success disappeared. Winter-spring spawning by razorback suckers in Lake Mohave, along with the extreme susceptibility of larvae to predation in clear water, may account for total recruitment failure in that lake. However, in upper basin rivers, suspended sediments remain high enough to limit predation by fishes tested, suggesting that other impacts, including contaminants and lack of floodplain habitat, may be thwarting recruitment in those rivers.
Additional publication details
Effect of suspended sediment on vulnerability of young razorback suckers to predation