Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New Mexico
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New Mexico Project


Abundance and Habitat-related Use of White Sands Pupfish

December 2013 - November 2019


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • White Sands Missle Range -Environmental Surveillance Division
Colleen Caldwell chilling on White Sands National Monument

Small-bodied fishes represent a monitoring challenge when they are locally abundant, short-lived, and alter their reproductive strategy as environmental conditions vary. Use of minnow traps with an index of abundance (i.e., catch-per-unit-effort, CPUE) for White Sands pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa) can be affected by basic methodological choices such as trap soak time (i.e., effort) as well as the timing and location of trap placement. Movement into and out of minnow traps by the pupfish affected CPUE. White Sands pupfish exited traps at frequencies that were nearly equivalent to the rate of entering, suggesting total catch and thereby CPUE, are strongly influenced by factors that determine the probability of an animal exiting the trap. In addition, CPUE was weakly correlated with a more robust estimate of abundance (Lincoln-Peterson estimator) suggesting CPUE is not a good index for abundance especially when trap soak times are variable.

Validation of Otolith Deposition in Laboratory and Field-reared White Sands Pupfish - Otolithic organs (earbones in fish) can be used to accurately evaluate the age of a fish. If otolith increments are deposited daily and time of hatch (onset) is known.

Reproductive Strategies of White Sands Pupfish inhabiting Stable versus Unstable Habitats - White Sands pupfish was used to test the hypothesis that mate choice strategies are influenced by environmental stability. Wild fish were collected from two locations each characterized by either highly variable flows marked by stream drying and extreme temperatures or stable flows with consistent diel patterns of water temperature. Detectable differences were observed between pupfish from stable versus unstable stream environments in both the distribution of eggs. Additionally, reproductive effort was detectably different between fish from stable versus unstable environments. These results suggests that reproductive investment may decrease as habitat stability decreases due to the breakdown of reliable reproductive signals.

Technical Publications Publication Date
Caldwell, C.A. and D. Peterson. 2017. White Sands pupfish populations throughout their range on two military installations in South Central New Mexico. Interim Progress Report. Environmental Stewardship Branch, Department of Army. White Sands Missile Range. 54 pages. 2017-05-31
Presentations Presentation Date
Baca, A., D. Peterson, and C.A. Caldwell. 2016. Reproductive Strategies of White Sands Pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa) Inhabiting Stable and Stochastic Habitats. Desert Fishes Council, Albuquerque, New Mexico. November 15-19. 2016-11-16
Baca, A., D. Peterson, and C.A. Caldwell. 2017. Reproductive Strategies of White Sands Pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa) Inhabiting Stable and Stochastic Habitats. 50th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and the Arizona and New Mexico Chapters of the Wildlife Society, Farmington, New Mexico. February 2-4. 2017. 2017-02-03
Peterson, D. and C.A. Caldwell. 2016. Why Catch-Per-Unit-Effort is Insufficient as an Index of Abundance for the White Sands Pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa). Desert Fishes Council. Albuquerque, New Mexico, 15-19 November. 2016-11-16
Peterson, D., T. Trantham, R. Simpson, and C.A. Caldwell. 2015. Effects of passive integrated transponder and visual elastomeric tagging on survival and growth of a small-bodied southwestern pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa). 47th Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. Death Valley National Park, California. 18-22 November. 2015-11-22
Peterson, D. and C.A. Caldwell. 2017. Why Catch-Per-Unit-Effort is Insufficient as an Index of Abundance for the White Sands Pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa). 50th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and the Arizona and New Mexico Chapters of the Wildlife Society, Farmington, New Mexico. February 2-4. 2017. 2017-02-03