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

Texas Project

Resource Management in Changing Climate:Understanding the Relationship between Water Quality and Golden Alga Distribution in the Pecos River New Mexico & Texas

September 2011 - September 2013


Participating Agencies

  • Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) is a harmful algal species first reported in North America in the Pecos River in 1985. Toxins released by golden alga can be fatal to fishes, bivalves, crayfish, and gilled amphibians. Recent research suggests that the frequency and severity of golden alga blooms will increase under altered flow regimes as a result of climate change, although the mechanisms leading to bloom formation and toxicity are complex and elusive. The primary goal in this research is to enhance our understanding of the environmental conditions, specifically water quality variables, which promote or regulate golden alga bloom formation in the Pecos River system. Our approach will include sampling a wide range of habitats and environmental conditions throughout the middle and lower Pecos River basin within the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative region, and across an 18 month time-span to account for seasonal and phenological events. We will utilize a suite of univariate and multivariate statistical techniques to relate occurrence and density of golden alga to environmental factors. The proposed research is expected to yield information useful to the management of surface water and its associated watershed.