TCU 443: Assessment of Gila pandora in Little Aguja Creek (Davis Mountains), Texas
January 2023 - August 2025
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Rio Grande Chub (Gila pandora; RGC) have experienced considerable range reductions (~75%) over the past century due to habitat degradation, invasive species, and reduced streamflow. Notably, a single (state threatened) population of RGC inhabits Little Aguja Creek in the Davis Mountains, Texas. Because the Little Aguja population is isolated, recolonization from other populations is not possible. Thus, RGC in Texas may be highly susceptible to catastrophic events (e.g., wildfire, severe drought) as the Chihuahuan Desert region becomes hotter and drier. As part of a range-wide status assessment, Texas has committed to assess and monitor the status of known populations of RGC and their habitats to track changes over time. A primary goal of the agreement is to maintain the long-term viability (i.e., self-sustaining wild populations) of RGC within their historical range. Additionally, surveys are needed to identify other streams that could support RGC as part of future efforts to establish new populations. Such proactive measures may improve long-term viability and preclude the listing of RGC under the ESA. The primary objectives of our study are to (1) assess the status (e.g., presence/absence, abundance) and habitat associations (e.g., depth, sediments, riparian cover) of the RGC population in Little Aguja Creek, (2) deploy environmental sensors (temperature, pressure transducers) to establish baselines with respect to water quality and quantity, and (3) engage private landowners and solicit permission to assess streams for RGC and identify areas where managed translocations or reintroduction may be suitable. This project is in collaboration with Texas Parks and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy. Information from this project will help aid conservation actions for the long-term viability of Rio Grande Chub in Texas.