leatherside chub, endangered species, freshwater fish, salmon


Outside of anadromous salmonids and a few endangered species, biology of native freshwater fishes of western North America is poorly known. What do we need to know to effectively manage native species and avoid decline and extinction? A recent analysis of the role of science in the Pacific salmon controversy outlines a clear framework for biological evaluation and management of native species. This framework has three components: (1) determine status of populations based on genetic and ecological variation, (2) identify and quantify threats to populations, and (3) determine actions to alleviate threats and promote conservation of populations. We use our studies of leatherside chub Snyderichthys copei (formerly Gila copei), a small cyprinid native to the Bonneville basin and upper Snake River drainage, as a case study to illustrate the application of this research and management framework. Recent surveys have revealed dramatic reductions in range of leatherside chub over the last 50 years. Genetic, morphometric, and ecological studies all indicate that leatherside chub comprise two distinct species. Leatherside chub is threatened by both habitat degradation and introduced brown trout Salmo trutta, and the interaction between these two threats exacerbates negative effects. We conclude by showing how studies of leatherside chub can inform and influence management, conservation, and habitat restoration activities.

Original Publication Citation

Belk, M.C., and J.B. Johnson. 2007. Biological status of leatherside chub: a framework for conservation of western freshwater fishes. In Status, Distribution, and Conservation of Native Fishes of Western North America: A Symposium Proceedings, American Fisheries Society Symposium 53:67-76.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Fisheries Society Symposium




Life Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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Biology Commons