Historical Changes in Large River Fish Assemblages of the Americas

Historical Changes in the Index of Biological Integrity for the Lower Río Nazas, Durango, México

Salvador Contreras-Balderas, María de Lourdes Lozano-Vilano, and María E. García-Ramírez

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569728.ch13

Abstract.—The interior Río Nazas basin is located in arid north-central México. It is an interior drainage, subject to dewatering since the early 20th century, and sustains wide fluctuations in runoff. It drains 85,530 km2 and has a major dam in the middle reaches, producing a highly controlled river, with 100% consumption for agriculture and urban use. Hydrologic gauge reports at Torreón from the Comisión Nacional del Agua indicate a 10-year average runoff of 581.9 million m3 from 1936 to 1945, and only 66.4 million m3 in 1972, the last year of recorded runoff. Its 13 known native fish species are of Rio Grande/Rio Bravo origin. Eleven are endemic to the basin complex (only one absent from the study area), seven species have been listed by the Mexican federal government as threatened or endangered, and three are undescribed. The basin has 13 invasive alien species. An index of biological integrity (IBI), based on historical data, was applied to the current fish assemblage at 10 localities in the lower basin, below El Palmito reservoir. The IBI ranged from 50 to 57 at sites in the northern branch, to 39–61 in the southern branches, and to 0–57 from below their junction to the lower reaches, and averaged 37 or very poor. The overall biotic integrity is very low, especially near reservoirs and in the lower reaches of the river, where human activities consume all available water. The main causes of fish loss from this interesting fish fauna are alien invasive species, habitat disruption, pollution, and dewatering.