The importance of Colorado River flow to nursery habitats of the Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus)

Kirsten Rowell, Karl Flessa, David L. Dettman, Martha Román

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We test the hypothesis that Colorado River flow is important in providing nursery habitat for the Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus), a commercially valuable and endemic fish in the upper Gulf of California. We use oxygen isotopes in otoliths to determine when these fish inhabit isotopically different bodies of water (Gulf of California versus the Colorado Estuary). The δ18O values in the natal otoliths of C. othonopterus, significantly more negative than can be predicted by temperature alone, provide evidence that this species uses the brackish habitats created by flow of the Colorado River. A significant log-linear relationship between the natal δ18O values and the cumulative flow of the Colorado River during natal development confirms use of brackish habitat in years that the Colorado River water reached the Gulf. Natal δ18O values indicate that C. othonopterus seek out estuarine habitats with salinities between 26‰ and 38‰. Reduction in Colorado River flow since the construction of upstream dams has reduced the size of nursery habitat for C. othonopterus. Our results support the hypothesis that declines in commercial landings can be at least partially attributed to reduced river flow. Increased flow would increase nursery habitat and likely benefit recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2874-2885
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume62
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

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Cynoscion
Sciaenidae
Colorado River
river flow
habitat
habitats
Gulf of California
otolith
otoliths
dams (hydrology)
river water
fish
river
body water
oxygen isotope
gulf
isotopes
estuaries
dam
estuary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

Cite this

The importance of Colorado River flow to nursery habitats of the Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus). / Rowell, Kirsten; Flessa, Karl; Dettman, David L.; Román, Martha.

In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 62, No. 12, 12.2005, p. 2874-2885.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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