Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 97–107 | Cite as

Relation of desert pupfish abundance to selected environmental variables in natural and manmade habitats in the Salton Sea basin

  • Barbara A. Martin
  • Michael K. Saiki


We assessed the relation between abundance of desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius, and selected biological and physicochemical variables in natural and manmade habitats within the Salton Sea Basin. Field sampling in a natural tributary, Salt Creek, and three agricultural drains captured eight species including pupfish (1.1% of the total catch), the only native species encountered. According to Bray–Curtis resemblance functions, fish species assemblages differed mostly between Salt Creek and the drains (i.e., the three drains had relatively similar species assemblages). Pupfish numbers and environmental variables varied among sites and sample periods. Canonical correlation showed that pupfish abundance was positively correlated with abundance of western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, and negatively correlated with abundance of porthole livebearers, Poeciliopsis gracilis, tilapias (Sarotherodon mossambica and Tilapia zillii), longjaw mudsuckers, Gillichthys mirabilis, and mollies (Poecilia latipinnaandPoecilia mexicana). In addition, pupfish abundance was positively correlated with cover, pH, and salinity, and negatively correlated with sediment factor (a measure of sediment grain size) and dissolved oxygen. Pupfish abundance was generally highest in habitats where water quality extremes (especially high pH and salinity, and low dissolved oxygen) seemingly limited the occurrence of nonnative fishes. This study also documented evidence of predation by mudsuckers on pupfish. These findings support the contention of many resource managers that pupfish populations are adversely influenced by ecological interactions with nonnative fishes.


species assemblages predation water quality habitat requirements ecological interactions endangered species 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barlow, G.W. 1958High salinity mortality of desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius Copeia1958231232Google Scholar
  2. Barlow, G.W. 1961Social behavior of the desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius, in the field and in the aquariumAm. Midland Nat.65339359Google Scholar
  3. Bogardi, J. 1974Characteristics of sediment and bed materialBogardi, J. eds. Sediment Transport in Alluvial StreamsAkademiai KiadoBudapest Hungary3649(translated by Z. Szilvassy)Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J.H., Feldmeth, C.R. 1971Evolution in constant and fluctuating environments: Thermal tolerances of desert pupfish (Cyprinodon)Evolution25390398Google Scholar
  5. Courtois, L.A., Hino, S. 1979Egg deposition of the desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius, in relation to several physical parametersCalifornia Fish Game65100105Google Scholar
  6. Cox, T.J. 1966A behavioral and ecological study of the desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) in Quitobaquito Springs, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, ArizonaUniversity of ArizonaTucson, Arizona, USA91DissertationGoogle Scholar
  7. Kinne, O., Kinne, E.M. 1962Rates of development in embryos of a cyprinodont fish exposed to different temperature–salinity–oxygen combinationsCan. J. Zoo.40231253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lowe, C.H., Heath, W.G. 1968Behavioral and physiological responses to temperature in the desert pupfish Cyprinodon macularius Physiol. Zool.425359Google Scholar
  9. Lowe, C.H., Hinds, D.S., Halpern, E.A. 1967Experimental catastrophic selection and tolerances to low oxygen concentration in native Arizona freshwater fishesEcology4810131017Google Scholar
  10. Ludwig, J.A., Reynolds, J.F. 1988Statistical EcologyJohn Wiley & SonsNew York337Google Scholar
  11. McMahon, T.E., Tash, J.C. 1988Experimental analysis of the role of emigration in population regulation of desert pupfishEcology6918711883Google Scholar
  12. Merrit, R.W.Cummins, K.W..,  eds. 1978An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North AmericaKendall & Hunt Publishing CompanyDubuque, Iowa, USA441Google Scholar
  13. Moyle, P.B. 2002Inland fishes of CaliforniaUniversity California PressBerkeley, California502Google Scholar
  14. Miller, R.R. 1948The Cyprinodont Fishes of the Death Valley system of eastern California and southwestern NevadaMiscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University Michigan681155Google Scholar
  15. Miller, R.R., Fuiman, L.A. 1987Description and conservation status of Cyprinodon macularius eremus, a new subspecies of pupfish from Organ pipe cactus national monument, ArizonaCopeia1987593609Google Scholar
  16. Mire, J.B., Millett, L. 1994Size of mother does not determine size of eggs or fry in the Owens pupfish, Cyprinodon radiosus Copeia1994100107Google Scholar
  17. Pennak, R.W. 1978Fresh-water invertebrates of the United States2nd editionJohn Wiley & SonsNew York, NY USA628Google Scholar
  18. SAS Institute Inc.1990SAS/STAT user’s guide, version 6fourth editionCaryNorth Carolina, USA889Google Scholar
  19. Schoenherr, A.A. 1979Niche separation within a population of freshwater fishes in an irrigation drain near the Salton Sea, CaliforniaBull. S. Calif. Acad. Sci.784655Google Scholar
  20. Schoenherr, A.A. 1981Replacement of Cyprinodon macularius by Tilapia zillii in an irrigation drain near the Salton SeaProc. Desert Fishes Council136566Google Scholar
  21. Schoenherr, A.A. 1988A review of the life history and status of the desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius Bull. S. Calif. Acad. Sci.87104134Google Scholar
  22. Schoenherr, A.A., Feldmeth, C.R. 1991Thermal tolerances for relict populations of desert pupfish, Cyprinodon macularius Proc. Desert Fishes CouncilXXIII4954Google Scholar
  23. Soltz, D.L. 1974Variation in life history and social organization of some populations of Nevada pupfish, Cyprinodon nevadensisUniversity of CaliforniaLos Angeles, California, USA148DissertationGoogle Scholar
  24. Usinger R.L., . eds. 1971Aquatic Insects of California with Keys to North American Genera and California speciesUniversity of California PressBerkeley, California, USA508Google Scholar
  25. USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).1986Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of endangered status and critical habitat for the desert pupfishFed. Regist.511084210851Google Scholar
  26. Walker B.W., Whitney R.R., Barlow G.W., (1961). Fishes of the Salton Sea. pp. 77–91. In: Walker B.W., (eds), The ecology of the Salton Sea, California in relation to the sport fishery, Calif. Fish Game Fish. Bull. 113: 77–91Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Fisheries Research Center-Dixon Duty StationU.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources DivisionDixonU.S.A

Personalised recommendations