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.

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5 Responses to Chihuahua

  1. xipe says:

    I saw some today, went to San Diego De Alcala.

  2. Ricardo says:

    I was there a few days ago. I saw the small pupfish in the water. There were quite a few of them in some areas. I also saw a lot of what looked like cichlid fish. I am familiar with them from having aquarium fish. I did not see these pupfish where the cichlids were. I know cichlid fish are very aggressive and they would surely eliminate and pupfish from this areas if that is what they were. Are they cichlids and are they endemic. I did not know what the small fish were and I asked some of the people that worked there what they are. They did not know. I asked if it was OK to take any and he said not a problem. I left them alone. I was just curious. Are all the fish in this area protected? It looks like the pupfish could do much better if the bigger fish were removed and the smaller ones put in the more prime looking areas. I can not find information on the computer as to what the bigger fish are.

    • Ricardo says:

      It was not the owners in San Diego Alcala that said it was OK to take fish. It was the workers in the area. I read an article that said that the owners are into the idea of protection and promote eco-tourism. The eco-tourism is probably not to existent with the violence here. People were soaking and swimming in the ponds and walking in them where the fish were. It might be a good idea to put up signs with a history of the fish and why they are so unique. I know the Mexican people really would enjoy reading about these fish. It would be a good way to bring some knowledge and appreciation for these fish. I did see young children trying to catch some of the fish, which is a normal thing to do. I doubt they were very successful.

  3. evanwcarson says:

    The pupfish are protected so a permit is required for collection. These fish live in very warm waters where few other fishes can live. Cichlids and the introduced centrarchids don’t do well in the warmer waters that the pupfish prefers, so the pupfish largely don’t overlap in range with the predatory fishes. Basically, the pupfish are doing well and should continue to do well as long as they are left alone and their habitat continues to be protected and spring flows are not reduced.

    These are very interesting fish indeed! I agree that education is of great importance here.


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