The Development of a Bonytail Fish Population in Lake Mead or Lake Powell
Bonytail (Gila elegans) are an endangered species in the Colorado River Basin. Bonytail are likely the most imperiled fish species in the Basin with no known spawning or recruiting populations. Bonytail are maintained in the river strictly through hatchery and stocking operations, but recaptures of stocked fish is extremely rare. In natural situations recruitment apparently fails due to predation on larvae by a host of introduced fish species (Minckley et al. 1991).
While spawning and wild bonytail are not detected anywhere in the Colorado River Basin, captive bonytail have readily spawned in ponds at various hatcheries (M. Ulibarri, USFWS, Southwest Native Aquatics Research and Recovery Center). We propose to develop a scoping proposal to develop a full proposal to construct and build a natural rearing area for bonytail at a river inflow area on either Lake Mead or Lake Powell. This facility would allow adult bonytail to spawn in relatively protected areas (netted) and allow the larvae and young to leave the areas to recruit nearby.
Need and Benefit
The Bureau of Reclamation funds and assists in the management of two Programs responsible for recovering or conserving bonytail--the UCRIP and LCR-MSCP. To date there has been no success in recovering, or even developing stable populations of this fish species anywhere in the Basin. The operation of many facilities and projects requires compliance with ESA and making sufficient progress towards recovery and conservation activities. This proposal is an attempt to explore a different approach for conserving and recovering bonytail.
Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.
Bureau of Reclamation Review
The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.
The Development of a Bonytail Fish Population in Lake Mead or Lake Powell (final, PDF, 584KB)
By Mark McKinstry
Publication completed on September 30, 2015