Big Spring spinedace (Lepidomeda mollispinis pratensis) is a cyprinid whose entire population occurs within a section of Meadow Valley Wash, Nevada. Other spinedace species have suffered population and range declines (one species is extinct). Managers, concerned about the vulnerability of Big Spring spinedace, have considered habitat restoration actions or translocation, but they have lacked data on distribution or habitat use. Our study occurred in an 8.2-km section of Meadow Valley Wash, including about 7.2 km in Condor Canyon and 0.8 km upstream of the canyon. Big Spring spinedace were present upstream of the currently listed critical habitat, including in the tributary Kill Wash. We found no Big Spring spinedace in the lower 3.3 km of Condor Canyon. We tagged Big Spring spinedace ≥70 mm fork length (range 70–103 mm) with passive integrated transponder tags during October 2008 (n = 100) and March 2009 (n = 103) to document movement. At least 47 of these individuals moved from their release location (up to 2 km). Thirty-nine individuals moved to Kill Wash or the confluence area with Meadow Valley Wash. Ninety-three percent of movement occurred in spring 2009. Fish moved both upstream and downstream. We found no movement downstream over a small waterfall at river km 7.9 and recorded only one fish that moved downstream over Delmue Falls (a 12-m drop) at river km 6.1. At the time of tagging, there was no significant difference in fork length or condition between Big Spring Spinedace that were later detected moving and those not detected moving. We found no significant difference in fork length or condition at time of tagging of Big Spring spinedace ≥70 mm fork length that were detected moving and those not detected moving. Kill Wash and its confluence area appeared important to Big Spring spinedace; connectivity with these areas may be key to species persistence. These areas may provide a habitat template for restoration or translocation. The lower 3.3 km of Meadow Valley Wash in Condor Canyon may be a good candidate section for habitat restoration actions.
Additional publication details
Distribution and movement of Big Spring spinedace (Lepidomeda mollispinis pratensis) in Condor Canyon, Meadow Valley Wash, Nevada