The Drought of 2011-2013: Lessons Learned About the Captive Propagation of Great Plains Cyprinids

Monday, September 9, 2013
Governor's Hall I (trade show) (Statehouse Convention Center)
Aaron Urbanczyk , Department Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Gene Wilde , Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Kevin Mayes , River Studies Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, San Marcos, TX
The drought of 2011-2013, centered on the Great Plains USA, was among the most severe in recorded history and resulted in drastically reduced stream flows throughout the region.  This reduction was greatest in Texas, wherein rainfall was reduced by 50 to 75%, and as a result a number of rivers failed to flow throughout spring and summer.  Because many Great Plains cyprinids require flowing water for successful reproduction, there was nearly complete to complete reproductive failure among several species in Texas rivers in the 2011 and 2012 reproductive seasons.  Among the sites we monitor, there was a complete lack of reproduction in the Brazos River and a nearly complete failure in the Canadian River.  Consequently, in coordination with the USFWS and Texas Parks and Wildlife, we collected mature individuals of five imperiled species and returned them to fish culture facilities for propagation in the event that future spawning in the wild was not possible.  We were able to successfully propagate large numbers of three species.  However, two species went to a second facility, where propagation was largely unsuccessful.  Herein, we use these case histories to recommend a protocol for collection, maintenance, and propagation of Great Plains cyprinids and recommend a proactive, rather than reactive approach to conservation-propagation. This is especially important given predictions from current global climate change scenarios.