Great Basin Naturalist


Gila boraxobius is a dwarf species of cyprinid endemic to a thermal lake in southeastern Oregon. Despite a relatively depauperate fauna and flora in the lake, 24 food items were found in intestines of G. boraxobius. Ten of the 24 foods, including six insects, were of terrestrial origin. The relative importance of food items fluctuated seasonally. Diatoms, chironomid larvae, microcrustaceans, and dipteran adults were the primary foods during spring. In summer, diatoms decreased and terrestrial insects increased in importance. During autumn important foods were terrestrial insects, chironomid larvae, and diatoms. Diatoms and microcrustaceans increased in importance during winter. Chironomid larvae were of importance in winter, when the importance of terrestrial food items decreased substantially. Similar food habits were observed between juveniles and adults, except that adults consumed more gastropods and diatoms and juveniles consumed more copepods and terrestrial insects. Gila boraxobius feeds opportunistically with individuals commonly containing mostly one food item. Fish typically feed by picking foods from soft bottom sediments or from rocks. However, fish will feed throughout the water column or on the surface if food is abundant there. Gila boraxobius feeds throughout the day, with a peak in feeding activity just after sunset. A daily ration of 11.1 percent body weight was calculated for the species during June. A comparison of food habits among G. boraxobius and populations of G. alvordensis during the summer shows that all are opportunistic in feeding, but that G. boraxobius relies more heavily on terrestrial foods.