My research in Chihuahua is conducted in collaboration with Mauricio De la Maza-Benignos (Pronatura Noreste, A. C.) and Lourdes Lozano (UANL). We work mainly on fishes, particularly pupfishes, of the Río Conchos, Río Yaqui, and Janos-Samalayuca Wetland Corridor (ríos Casas Grandes, Santa María, del Carmen and endorheic basins of the region). The Río Conchos is the largest tributary (by water volume) of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo). This research specifically involves conservation genetics of five pupfish species, including the native Cyprinodon eximius and the endemic C. julimes (top picture), C. macrolepis, C. pachycephalus, and C. salvadori.
The primary focus of my research in the Conchos basin centers on two extremophile pupfishes and the habitats in which they occur. Outside the towns of San Diego de Alcalá and Julimes (~20 km apart roughly north to south) are two isolated hot spring systems (~38-46 degrees centigrade; C. pachycephalus habitat in bottom picture) that are dominated by remarkably similar endemic/native core faunas. Both include a pupfish (Cyprinodon pachycephalus and C. julimes, respectively), a Poeciliid fish (Gambusia zarskei vs. G. sp. ), an isopod (Thermosphaeroma smithi vs. T. subequalum), and, respectively, two (Tryonia chuviscarae and T. minckleyi) and one (T. julimesensis ) endemic Cochliopid spring snails (Hershler et al. 2011). Little is known about any of these inhabitants. The most is probably known about C. pachycephalus. Though the two pupfishes are have what are thought to be functionally equivalent morphological adaptations adapted to their habitats (e.g., both possess extraordinarily large heads that are thought to accommodate large gills required to survive in these hot, oxygen poor environments), little is known about relationships of these species to each other or to other Cyprinodon. As mysteries of these species are revealed, I will add this information to the site. Some very exciting research is underway.