Great Basin Naturalist


Three fishes, two species of Gila, and an undescribed subspecies of cutthroat trout, are endemic to the Alvord Basin. Historically, the Alvord cutthroat trout, Salmo clarki ssp., inhabited the larger creeks of the basin but has been extirpated in pure form because of introgression with introduced rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri. Gila boraxobius is restricted to the thermal waters of Borax Lake and its outflows in the northern part of the basin. This species is endangered because of alteration of its fragile habitat. The Alvord chub, G. alvordensis, is recorded from 16 localities throughout the basin, including springs, creeks, and reservoirs. Although G. alvordensis as a species is not in jeopardy, many populations are small and could be easily eliminated by habitat destruction or by the introduction of exotic fishes. Competition with exotic guppies, Poecilia reticulata, has extirpated the Thousand Creek Spring population of Alvord chubs.

Both species of Gila are opportunistic omnivores, consuming primarily chironomids, microcrustaceans, and diatoms. The Borax Lake chub also consumed large numbers of terrestrial insects, but specialized feeding on molluscs was noted in the West Spring population of Alvord chubs. Borax Lake chubs spawn throughout the year; however, most spawning occurs in early spring. Borax Lake chubs mature at a small size, occasionally less than 30 mm standard length, and seldom live more than one year. Alvord chubs are typically much larger than the Borax Lake species and live at least into their fifth year.