The Desert Fishes Council (DFC) is a non-profit (registered with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 1988) professional organization founded in 1969 with the mission of preserving "the biological integrity of desert aquatic ecosystems and their associated life forms, to hold symposia to report related research and management endeavors, and to effect rapid dissemination of information concerning activities of the Council and its members" (http://desertfishes.org). Fulfillment of that mission from the start included the production of a comprehensive report on all meeting activities (business meeting + abstracts of presented papers and posters) that was disseminated to the membership as the "Proceedings of the Desert Fishes Council". After 20 years of production and editing by Phil Pister, in 1990, Dean Hendrickson assumed editorship, producing the 1990-1994 volumes. Starting with the 1992 content, the editorial workflow changed from paper originals to all content being digital from abstract submission through published digital annual volumes available from the DFC website, and the Proceedings were formally registered as a serial publication (ISSN 1068-0381). Gary Garrett served as editor for the 1995-1996 volumes, and Hendrickson and Garret co-edited the 1997-1998 volumes. Hendrickson and Lloyd Findley served as co-editors for 1999-2007, adding Spanish translations of all abstracts. Following a decision by the Executive Committee to cease translation after the 2007 volume, Hendrickson continued as sole editor from 2008 to present. From the beginning, bound hard copies of the Proceedings were mailed to DFC members and a variable number of selected, mostly academic libraries, but around 2000, distribution switched exclusively to email and downloading from the internet. Eventually, all pre-1992 Proceedings issues were scanned to PDFs which were made available from the website, but, with conversion of the workflow to abstract submission direct to an online database in 2008, the classical content of the Proceedings became fragmented, with minutes of the meetings published each year on the website and a separate online abstracts database. Thus, even as the 50th anniversary of the DFC approached, the historical content of its Proceedings, though all available in digital format, remained scattered across many different files and formats, making comprehensive searching of the complete content laborious. At the time of finalizing this abstract (October 2018) and the compiled file here described, post-2007 abstracts of papers presented at the meetings were searchable from the website via the online abstract database, and the 1992-2007 PDFs of the annual Proceedings (all originally digital content) were separately searchable by downloading the annual files into PDF reader programs. The 1969-1991 volumes were also each searchable in the same way, but their textual (searchable) content, the product of automated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) done when that technology was still young, had many errors. Here, we provide the first single, text-based PDF file that brings the entire history of the DFC together in one place. The newer OCR technology used in this file produced much better results with the older content than what is found in the separate PDFs on the DFC website, and single searches of this file now extend across the complete history of DFC to present, greatly improving the utility of the archive for historical and scientific research. It is hoped that as more new content is appended, updates of this file will be produced, that remaining OCR errors (though less prevalent than in the early volumes) can eventually be corrected, and that the post-2007 meeting minutes lacking in this file can also be added, making this now permanently archived and openly available file a one-stop resource for the large corpus of historical and scientific conservation-related research built by the 4 editors authoring this archive, and by all of the members of the DFC who contributed content over the first half century of DFC's history.
Staff from the Biodiversity Center’s fish collection (home of the Fishes of Texas Project) recently teamed up with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s River Studies Program (TPWD) to conduct a fish survey of the Little River in Central Texas. The Little River is little in name only and covers nearly 3% of the state of Texas, from Eastland southeast to Hearne, and includes well-known tributaries such as the Leon, San Gabriel, and the Lampasas Rivers. We collected fish at 63 sites from March to July of this year. All fish have been identified, counted, measured, and cataloged and are soon to be shelved and made available to the world’s taxonomists, ecologists, and researchers in general. We collected 52 species altogether, including 12 non-native species (see full list below). This survey is part of a larger on-going project which targets undersampled watersheds throughout the state, filling in critical research needs to aid in conservation efforts of native species and restoration of the rivers they inhabit. Other participants in this survey include Austin Youth River Watch, a non-profit focusing on environmental education of underserved youth, and Dr. Michael Collins of the Gault School of Archaeological Research, who provided access to Buttermilk Creek, a perennially flowing creek that runs through the Gault archeological site.
Native Fish Conservation Areas of the southwestern USA consist of springs, ciénegas, creeks, rivers, and associated watersheds uniquely valued in preservation of freshwater fish diversity. These freshwater systems were identified through a spatial prioritization approach that identifies areas critically important to the long-term persistence of focal fish species. Through a shared mission of collaborative stewardship, conservation partnerships have formed among non-governmental organizations, universities, and state and federal agencies to plan and deliver actions to restore and preserve native freshwater fishes and aquatic habitats within the Native Fish Conservation Areas. Furthermore, the Native Fish Conservation Areas have increased awareness of the ecological, recreational, and economic values of freshwater systems in the region, and helped increase interest and capacity of local landowners, communities, and recreational users (e.g., paddlers, anglers) to act as advocates and local stewards of these systems. By facilitating partnership development, coordinating multi-species, watershed-based conservation planning, and leveraging technical and financial resources toward strategic conservation investments, Native Fish Conservation Areas have served as a catalyst for collaborative, science-based stewardship of native freshwater fishes and aquatic habitats in the southwestern USA. Efforts described herein to prioritize and deliver a network of Native Fish Conservation Areas in the southwestern USA offer a successful case study in multi-species and watershed approaches to freshwater fish conservation transferrable to other states and regions of the USA. This report offers a synthesis of recent (2011-2018) multi-species aquatic assessments, Native Fish Conservation Area prioritizations, conservation planning, and conservation delivery within the southwestern USA explicitly focused on implementation of the Native Fish Conservation Areas approach.
The endangered Mexican blindcat (Prietella phreatophila, Carranza 1954) is one of only four described stygobitic ictalurid catfish in North America. Members of two monotypic genera (Satan eurystomus and Trogloglanis pattersoni) are known from the Edwards Aquifer in Texas and, until recently, Prietella (represented by P. lundbergi and P. phreatophila) was only known to occur in Mexico (northern Coahuila to southern Tamaulipas). The recent discovery of P. phreatophila in a cave on the Amistad National Recreation Area in Val Verde County, Texas is the result of decades of sporadic effort on both sides of the US/Mexican border and has stimulated a renewed effort to investigate the distribution, ecology, evolutionary history, and conservation status of this species. Collaborative efforts among The San Antonio Zoo, The University of Texas at Austin, Zara Environmental, and The National Park Service are currently focused on habitat surveys in Texas as well as captive husbandry and propagation. Ongoing efforts with collaborators from the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Área de Protección de Recursos Naturales Sabinas and the Laboratorio de Genética para la Conservación, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, La Paz include expanded fieldwork in Mexico, hydrogeologic studies, and surveys using environmental DNA.
The primary aim of this grant was to work with Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), Texas Advanced Computing Center (University of Texas at Austin), and other collaborators to (1) utilize Fishes of Texas Project (FoTX) data to aid in conservation of Texas fishes, (2) conduct field surveys in under-sampled areas of conservation interest, and (3) further develop the FoTX database and website as a research and management tool. While much of our work focused on Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), almost everything we did was applied to all species, or affected data for all species. This report documents how FoTX’s specimen-based data were used to produce species distribution models that, in turn, fed into prioritization analyses that led to official creation of Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs) that are now becoming the foundation of aquatic resource conservation prioritization and management in Texas. Our data were also used by TPWD staff to update the Texas Natural Diversity Database, previously depauperate for fish data, and to develop state and global conservation rankings for fishes using NatureServe’s standard methodology. Using FoTX data, we also developed recommendations for updating TPWD’s SGCN list, which will inform conservation in Texas for many years. We also expanded the scope of FoTX beyond Texas, throughout entire drainages, thus reducing biases and analytical complications related to our previous political boundary that lacked a biogeographical basis. We also added many new records from new types of data sources, especially agency databases that complement the museum specimen data to provide a more thorough, updated and unbiased dataset for analyzing temporal and spatial trends in fish faunas. The FoTX website’s checklists were improved in many ways to increase their utility to resource managers, and the site also now accesses occurrence data held in formerly inaccessible, but now digitized and easily accessed documents. We used diverse resources and our occurrence data to determine native ranges for all Texas fishes, and now visualize them in our website's maps, so when viewed alongside occurrence data, users can more easily recognize and explore spatial and temporal trends. We focused another effort at understanding range changes through time, and produced dynamic graphs, that when fully implemented will update automatically as underlying data evolve, depicting and statistically describing locational and general range size changes through time. In addition to database and website work, we were also in the field alongside, and in close coordination with, TPWD staff, focusing on collecting areas previously lacking data, or where there were other conservation-related reasons for sampling. The resultant thousands of new specimens and tissue samples deposited and permanently housed in the University of Texas Biodiversity Collections now provide new, modern data points for ongoing conservation actions. In summary, this project allowed FoTX to continue to grow and diversify, moving away from focusing solely on archiving and improving the data to applying those data in diverse ways that maximize their value for conservation. The project also greatly increased collaborations between FoTX and TPWD staff, and inspired a Herps of Texas Project templated on the FoTX database schema and website, thus providing an efficient pathway for getting that project to a similar state, with the added advantage of a high level of inter-compatibility of most improvements across both sites. Our hope is that other projects, focusing on other taxa, continue to follow in our footsteps, allowing mutual benefit, and eventually query interfaces that provide users access to high quality data for entire ecological communities.
Waller Creek is an entirely urban creek flowing 11km through Austin, Travis County, Texas into Ladybird Lake. We gather the historic fish data, all held in our own Fishes of Texas Project database (Hendrickson and Cohen, 2018), for the creek and attempt to describe temporal change in the fauna of the creek. Minimal samples exist from the 1940’s and ’50s, but its fish fauna is rigorously sampled in the 1970’s when Edwards (1976) first formally surveyed the creek. It was uncollected in the 1980s. The Hendrickson lab, working with the public, local schools and universities, began sampling the creek in the 1990’s and continues to do so. These two sources (Edwards and Hendrickson Lab) are the main generators of data and we compared pre- and post-1980s data largely generated by these two sources. The fish fauna remains dominated by the same seven species Edwards collected in the 1970s (Gambusia affinis, Campostoma anomalum, Astyanax mexicanus, Lepomis megalotis, Lepomis cyanellus, Cyprinella lutrensis, and Herichthys cyanoguttatus), with the exception of an invasive species (Xiphophorus variatus), first detected in 2004, that is now the dominant species in the creek. Two of these seven species are firmly established non-natives (Astyanax mexicanus and Herichthys cyanoguttatus). Most of the less common native species collected in the 1970’s are no longer present (Ameiurus melas, Dionda flavipinnis, Fundulus zebrinus, Lepomis humilis, Lepomis macrochirus) or rare (Cyprinella venusta, Micropterus salmoides, Pimephales promelas) based on the data.
This digital archive provides a compilation of previously unpublished information regarding a 1991 observation of a live sturgeon (Family Acipenseridae) in the Rio Grande-Río Bravo of the USA and Mexico. Though a few specimens collected in the 19th century support occurrence of sturgeon in this river basin, lack of credible, recent records has often led to this species not being recognized as part of the basin’s native fish fauna, and certainly not part of its modern fish community. The second and third authors of this document manage the Fishes of Texas Project (Hendrickson, Dean A., & Cohen, Adam E. (2015). Fishes of Texas Project Database (version 2.0). Texas Advanced Computing Center, University of Texas at Austin. http://doi.org/10.17603/C3WC70) and knew of the unpublished 1991 observation of sturgeon reported here. They requested the content provided here from first author (Platania) who provided what follows below (verbatim as received in April 2018) and permission to archive it for public access.
The Fishes of Texas Project is briefly described, selected species known from the Colorado River basin (Texas) are discussed, and the life cycle of the American Eel is outlined with special attention to the distribution and status of the species in Texas. Files here include the original PowerPoint, a PDF version of the slides only, and a PDF version of the slides and all notes covering most of what was presented orally at the Barstow Speaker Series of the Colorado River Alliance on March 5, 2018 in Austin, Texas (see https://coloradoriver.org/our-programs/barstow-speaker-series/)