American theatergoers are familiar with director John Huston’s classic movie of 1948, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, based on a novel written by B. Traven and starring Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs. At least north of the border, Traven’s tale of loco gringos prospecting for gold made Mexico’s rugged mountains famous, and many cinephiles still recognize the famous quote by Gold Hat the bandito: “Badges! We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.” Huston filmed most of his mountain scenes on location in Mexico, and some 50 years later, we found ourselves in the Sierra Madre Occidental (henceforth, SMO) of northwest Mexico with our own saga of prospecting for “gold” beginning to unfold. Always without badges but often stinking after days of back-country camping and hiking, our binational and otherwise diverse cast of academic, government, and nonprofit biologists and fly fishers came to call itself Truchas Mexicanas (Mexican trout), after the different, but also gilded, treasure we were chasing.
With 95% of the land in Texas privately owned, conservation of the aquatic resources is particularly daunting and is exemplified by the fact that 48% of the 191 native freshwater fishes in Texas are now of conservation concern. Partnerships with private landowners is not only sensible, but often the only way to achieve long-term conservation goals. In the Chihuahuan Desert region of Texas, 55% of the native fishes are of conservation concern or already lost to extirpation or extinction. Although there are numerous contributing factors, habitat degradation and loss are the primary culprits. For decades, research and restoration have focused on some of the more imperiled species and their habitats. From reestablishing ciénegas, to landowner partnerships, to Conservation Agreements, much has been accomplished. Unfortunately, the challenges increase faster than our accomplishments. Our latest, and most promising, approach has been to develop six Native Fish Conservation Areas in the Chihuahuan Desert. These NFCAs represent an ecologically-focused conservation prioritization of watershed segments that serve as native fish “strongholds” and they function as priority areas for conservation investments to promote integrated, holistic conservation strategies that enable the long-term persistence of freshwater biodiversity. Current and future conservation of aquatic resources in Texas emphasizes a landscape-scale approach, working primarily with private landowners to provide conservation best management practices and support on-the-ground projects to maintain or restore habitats to sustain functional ecosystems.
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 through 2019. 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 2019) and final compilation of this volume, 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 (from the DFC website) 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. Some business meeting minutes since 2007 were available via the DFC website, but were difficult to find there, and many were missing. Here, we provide the first single, text-based PDF file that brings the entire history of the DFC together in one place. All 2008-2018 business meeting minutes have been found and added to this file. The newer OCR technology used in this file produced much better results with the older, graphic-based content than what is found in the separate PDFs on the DFC website, and this single compilation file will now allow easy text-based querying across the complete history of DFC to present, greatly improving the utility of the archive for historical and scientific research. We are happy to now provide this permanently archived, and openly available file as a one-stop resource for access to the large corpus of historical and scientifically important conservation-related research built by the four editors who compiled this archive, and by all of the members of the DFC who contributed content over the first half century of DFC's history. As we now turn management of DFC’s future content over to future Proceedings Editors, we suggest that they initiate work (perhaps Citizen Science-based?) to correct the remaining OCR and other errors (though less prevalent than in the early volumes), and ideally eventually more fully parse, and continue mining of, the contents to serve it via a digital, online database in compliance with standard bibliographic, taxonomic, and geo-spatial data standards, comparable to the way other modern scientifically useful content is served and linked across the Internet. Ideally, authors’ presentations could also be linked-in from permanent archives (such as DFC’s F1000 channel).
Two Mexican trout taxa are formally described (Oncorhynchus chrysogaster, and O. mykiss nelsoni), but many other congeners have long been informally recognized as likely distinct. For more than two decades, the binational Truchas Mexicanas team searched for and collected trout broadly throughout the Sierra Madre Occidental of Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango. That fieldwork documented that the native range of the genus extends to the Tropic of Cancer, or \textasciitilde1000 km S of El Paso, Texas, and indicates that most of Mexico's trout exist as small, isolated populations with very restricted ranges. Genetic studies of Truchas Mexicana's specimens demonstrated that the many distinctive lineages found in Mexico are at least as divergent from one another as are their much more thoroughly-studied relatives in the O. mykiss complex in the Western U.S.A. When an opportunity presented itself to list the many still undescribed Mexican forms in the IUCN Red List, as part of a large project to assess the conservation status of the entire Mexican freshwater fish fauna, the authors rapidly compiled the necessary documentation and submitted the required proposal. Once the proposal was accepted, we then worked with IUCN staff to finalize formal conservation assessments that should be published in the Red List about 1 month after this presentation is given at the 2019 meeting. We hope that this official listing of these 12 mostly undescribed Mexican endemic species, with 3 determined to be Critically Endangered (CR), 5 Endangered (EN), 3 Near Threatened (NT), and one Data Deficient (DD), will call attention to this important biodiversity asset and open doors for much-needed financial support for the conservation actions that are so desperately needed. Meanwhile, work continues on the morphologically difficult diagnoses of the new species and their descriptions.
Birdsong, Timothy W., Gary P. Garrett, Benjamin J. Labay, Megan G. Bean, Preston T. Bean, John Botros, Melissa J. Casarez, et al. 2019. “Texas Native Fish Conservation Areas Network.” Multispecies and Watershed Approaches to Freshwater Fish Conservation, edited by Daniel Dauwalter, Timothy Birdsong, and Gary P Garrett, 183–229. Bethesda, Maryland, USA: American Fisheries Socienty, 91, 183–229.
Aquatic biodiversity is threatened by human activities on a global scale. Mobile organisms such as stream fishes in particular are threatened by anthropogenic processes operating across jurisdictional and conservation area boundaries. Strategic conservation planning for broad, multi-¬species and multi¬jurisdictional landscapes benefits from datadriven approaches emphasizing persistence of priority species while accounting for human uses and stakeholder priorities. This study presents such an assessment for conservation of priority fishes of the Great Plains of the United States. Distribution models for 28 priority fishes were incorporated into a prioritization framework using the open-source software Zonation. A series of assessments were produced, including i) identification of distinct conservation areas based on connectivity and compositional similarity of priority streams, ii) perspectives for fish habitat condition prioritized towards undisturbed habitat (indicating protection potential) and disturbed habitat (indicating restoration potential), iii) ranking species conservation values at local (state) and global scales, and iv) development of 'bang-¬for-¬buck' perspectives emphasizing richness of species at state, basin, and study region scales. Assessment highlights include prioritizations primarily among unfragmented mainstem reaches, considerable state-boundary-based edge effects for rankings when using state-based conservation values, and identification of eight distinct regions containing natural communities of priority taxa. Further, we integrate an assessment product into a tiered framework for conservation implementation that facilitates coordination among stakeholders across jurisdictions and increases efficiency of conservation efforts. This set of analyses thus provides varying perspectives to direct diverse stakeholders in effective allocation of resources.
One aquatic bioassessment study area encompassing six sites and 34 supplemental collection sites were sampled across 14 counties in the upper Red River Basin of the Texas Panhandle and along the Texas- Oklahoma border during the fall of 2015 and 2016. The bioassessment study area included sampling at six sites on the Middle Fork Pease River within the Matador Wildlife Management Area. Fish were collected from all 40 sites and freshwater mussels and macroinvertebrates were collected from a subset of sites. All crayfish collected were documented. Overall 43 species of fish were documented from the upper Red River Basin. Fish species richness by site ranged from one to 17 species. Five fishes classified as species of greatest conservation need were documented (Prairie Chub, Red River Shiner, Silverband Shiner, Red River Pupfish, and Orangebelly Darter), but were typically found in low numbers. Federal and state-listed species historically found within this range were not encountered (Blue Sucker and Sharpnose Shiner). Fluvial specialists, including pelagic-broadcast spawning minnows, were found in low numbers and only at a few sites; however, it is possible they are more prevalent in the mainstem Red River which was not sampled in this study. No live freshwater mussels were collected during this study; however, long-dead shell material representing four species was found at one site on the Wichita River. Three species of crayfish were collected. Sampling within Matador Wildlife Management Area included data collection on fish, mussels, aquatic benthic macroinvertebrates, and water quality. Twelve species of fish and 24 benthic macroinvertebrate taxa were collected from the Middle Fork Pease River within Matador Wildlife Management Area. Bank searches found no evidence of freshwater mussels and no crayfish were documented from the management area. Fish species collected included several species that offer angling opportunities such as Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, and several sunfish species. The Middle Fork Pease River was not flowing during sampling and was a series of isolated pools. For this reason, calculation of indices of biotic integrity for fish or invertebrates were deemed inappropriate and omitted from analysis. Matador Wildlife Management Area provides public bank fishing access to the Middle Fork Pease River and camping opportunities for a small public lands fee. Outside of the management area, public access for recreational activities such as boating, paddling, and fishing is limited within the upper Red River Basin by low stream flows and fencing of the right-of-way at bridge crossings. Most rivers and streams within the study area have low and inconsistent stream flows limiting kayaking or canoeing opportunities; however, several city and county parks on the Wichita and Salt Fork of the Red River provide public access for bank fishing. This study updated fish occurrence records for 40 sites across the upper Red River Basin. This information will be used in conservation planning by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their Native Fish Conservation Areas initiative (Birdsong et al., 2019). Sport fish species data and recreational access information will also inform the agency’s recreational access initiatives such as the Texas Paddling Trails and the River Access and Conservation Areas programs, both of which work with local landowners and partners to increase public access for fishing and paddling.