Impacts of golden alga Prymnesium parvum on fish populations in reservoirs of the upper Colorado River and Brazos River basins, Texas

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 

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Abstract

Several reservoirs in the upper Colorado River and Brazos River basins in Texas have experienced toxic blooms of golden alga Prymnesium parvum and associated fish kills since 2001. There is a paucity of information, however, regarding the population-level effects of such kills in large reservoirs, species-specific resistance to or recovery from kills, or potential differences in the patterns of impacts among basins. We used multiple before-after, control-impact analysis to determine whether repeated golden alga blooms have led to declines in the relative abundance and size structure of fish populations. Sustained declines were noted for 9 of 12 fish species surveyed in the upper Colorado River, whereas only one of eight species was impacted by golden alga in the Brazos River. In the upper Colorado River, White Bass Morone chrysops, White Crappie Pomoxis annularis, Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, River Carpsucker Carpiodes carpio, Freshwater Drum Aplodinotus grunniens, Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus, Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris, and Blue Catfish I. furcatus exhibited sustained declines in relative abundance, size structure, or both; Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum, Longnose Gar Lepisosteus osseus, and Common Carp Cyprinus carpio did not exhibit those declines. In the Brazos River, only the relative abundance of Blue Catfish was impacted. Overall, toxic golden alga blooms can negatively impact fish populations over the long-term, but the patterns of impact can vary considerably among river basins and species. In the Brazos River, populations of most fish species appear to be healthy, suggesting a positive angling outlook for this basin. In the upper Colorado River, fish populations have been severely impacted, and angling opportunities have been reduced. Basin-specific management plans aimed at improving water quality and quantity will likely reduce bloom intensity and allow recovery of fish populations to the abundances and size structures present before golden alga. Received August 26, 2011; accepted November 25, 2012

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Impacts of golden alga Prymnesium parvum on fish populations in reservoirs of the upper Colorado River and Brazos River basins, Texas
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2012.754786
Volume 142
Issue 3
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Publisher location Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 15 p.
First page 581
Last page 595
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N