Great Basin Naturalist


Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea) is a federally listed endangered fish endemic to the spring-fed headwaters of the Muddy River, Clark County, Nevada. Species life history, abundance, and distribution were studied from March 1984 to January 1989. Reproduction, which was observed year-round, peaked in spring and was lowest in fall. It occurred in headwater tributaries of the Muddy River within 150 m of warm water spring discharge in water temperatures ranging from 30 to 32 C. Females matured between 41 and 45 mm in fork length (FL). Egg abundance increased with female size (r2 = .93); counts ranged from 60 for a 45-mm-FL female to 772 for one 90-mm FL. The oldest of eight fish, aged by the opercle method, was a 90-mm-FL, 4+-year-old female. Adults are omnivorous but tended toward carnivory; 75% of matter by volume consumed was invertebrates and 25% plants and detritus. Fish size was generally commensurate with flow, the largest fish occurring in the greatest flow. Adults were near bottom, in focal velocities ranging from 0 to 55 cm/s. Juveniles occupied a narrower range of depths and velocities than adults, and larvae occupied slack water. From December 1984 to September 1987, the total adult population ranged from 2600 to 2800. Although these numbers are higher than previously believed for Moapa dace, they are still sufficiently low to warrant its endangered status. The dependency of Moapa dace's different life history stages to various areas and habitat types of the Warm Springs area suggests that all remaining habitat is necessary for their survival.