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

Arizona Project


Using Remote Videography to Investigate Relationships Between Environmental Conditions and Spawning Behavior in Devils Hole Pupfish

March 2008 - December 2017


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Population decline to record lows and renewed interest in captive propagation of the endangered Devils Hole pupfish Cyprinodon diabolis has highlighted information deficits in some aspects of the species’ reproductive ecology. We conducted a monitoring study from February to December 2010 to investigate environmental factors associated with spawning activity in Devils Hole pupfish in Devils Hole, Death Valley National Park, Nevada. A fixed underwater camera provided continuous monitoring of a portion of a shallow, submerged rock shelf used for spawning. Dissolved oxygen, temperature, and light intensity datalogging meters continuously recorded environmental data from a fixed point on the shelf, and we conducted once or twice monthly algal/cyanobacterial surveys to measure percent cover of key species across the shelf. Water level and precipitation data provided by the National Park Service recorded earthquake and storm-induced flash- flood disturbances. Visual surveys conducted at the water surface from January to December 2010 provided additional information on spatial preferences in spawning. Zero-inflated Poisson regression showed greatest spawning activity was associated with the following conditions: dissolved oxygen 2.6–4.8 mg/L, total daily light intensity 133,250–400,300 lux, mean percent cover filamentous algae/cyanobacteria 24–60% and especially 24–27%, and presence of earthquake disturbance in the form of seiches. Among significant interaction effects, more spawning occurred at approximately 2.6 mg/L dissolved oxygen when diel dissolved oxygen variation was low (approximately 0.3–1.6 mg/L); at lower to mid-range monthly mean percent cover filamentous algae/cyanobacteria (approximately 24–32%) when total daily light intensity was lower to mid- range (110,000–330,000 lux); and post-earthquake when diel dissolved oxygen variation was low (0.6–1.3 mg/L). Increases in spawning activity occurred after earthquakes on 27 February and 21 October 2010; however, an earthquake during the peak spawning period (4 April 2010) was not associated with increased spawning activity. There was significant spatial variation in spawning, with most spawning activity occurring over the northeast area of the shelf. Our study provides new information on spawning in Devils Hole pupfish in Devils Hole, Nevada, including: temporal and spatial patterns, associated environmental factors, and effects of mechanical disturbance. Dissolved oxygen, diel dissolved oxygen variation, total daily light energy, percent cover filamentous algae/cyanobacteria, earthquake disturbance, and location on the shelf are the strongest predictors of spawning behavior in Devils Hole pupfish within Devils Hole. These factors in spawning might be utilized in adaptive management of the wild population, captive propagation to produce reserve populations, and efforts aimed at the recovery of the species. This work was provided in a thesis and a report to the USFWS. This work was published December, 2015 in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

Research Publications Publication Date
Chaudoin, A. L., O.G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2014. Comparison of Fixed Videography and Visual Surveys for Monitoring Devils Hole Pupfish Spawning Behavior in Devils Hole, Nevada. Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Fisheries Research Report 2014-07-31
Presentations Presentation Date
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, P. J. Barrett. 2009. Using stand-alone videography and water quality sensing to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole Pupfish. Annual Meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 3-7, 2009. 2009-05-03
Chaudoin, A. L., Feuerbacher, O. G., Bonar, S. A., and P. J. Barrett. 2009. Using stand‐alone videography and water quality sensing to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish. 41st Annual Meeting of the Desert Fishes Council. November 19‐22, , Death Valley, California. Death Valley National Park, CA, November 19-22. 2009-11-19
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2010. Using remote systems to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish. 43rd Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. February 4-6, 2010, Flagstaff, Arizona. 2010-02-05
Perez, C., S. Bonar, J. Amberg, C. Rees, B. Ladell, T. Edwards, W. Stewart, and C. Gill. 2015. Relationship between AFS standard fish sampling techniques and environmental DNA (eDNA) for characterizing fish relative abundance, biomass, and species composition in Arizona standing waters. Desert Fishes Council, 47th Annual Meeting 18-22 November 2015 Death Valley National Park, California, U.S.A. 2015-11-19
Chaudoin, A. L., Feuerbacher, O. G., Bonar, S. A., Barrett, P. J. 2012. Using remote systems to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish . 45th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society. Phoenix, Arizona, February 2-4. 2012-02-03
Chaudoin, A. L., Feuerbacher, O. G., Bonar, S. A., Barrett, P. J. 2012. Using remote systems to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish . 45th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society. Phoenix, Arizona, February 2-4. 2012-02-03
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2011. Using stand-alone video to monitor reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish. 2011 Devils Hole Workshop, Pahrump, Nevada, May 4-6. 2011-05-05
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2011. Using stand-alone video to monitor reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish. The Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society Joint Annual Meeting, Pinetop, Arizona, February 3-5, 2011. 2011-02-04
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2011. Using stand-alone video to monitor reproductive behavior in Devils Hole pupfish. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Devils Hole Pupfish Biologists Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 23-24, 2011 2011-06-24
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, and P. J. Barrett. 2012. Using Video to Investigate Relationships Between Environmental Conditions and Spawning Behavior in Devils Hole Pupfish. 142nd Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, August 19-23, 2012. 2012-08-19
Chaudoin, A. L., O. G. Feuerbacher, S. A. Bonar, P. J. Barrett. 2009. Using stand-alone videography and water quality sensing to assess relationships between environmental conditions and reproductive behavior in Devils Hole Pupfish. Annual Meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society. Albuquerque, New Mexico. May 3-7, 2009. 2009-05-03
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Chaudoin, A. L. 2014. Video and visual surveys of spawning in Devils Hole pupfish Cyprinodon diabolis. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson 2014-05-31