Historical Changes in Large River Fish Assemblages of the Americas

Changes in Fish Assemblages, Verde River, Arizona, 1974-2003

John N. Rinne

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569728.ch8

Abstract.—Fish assemblages in the Verde River, Arizona have changed markedly over the last quarter century. Nonnative fishes increase from headwaters toward the mouth and individual native species decrease. River hydrograph and the introduction of nonnative species appear to be the major factors determining fish assemblages, although information is lacking on water quality and other land management impacts. During floods, native species dominated fish assemblages. By contrast, during droughts and sustained base flows, nonnative fishes increased. The threatened spikedace Meda fulgida has been collected only in the uppermost reach of this desert river and, even here, has been absent since 1997. Five other native species also have become less abundant or rare. Continued monitoring of fish assemblages, comparison with another large southwestern river, the Gila, and aggressive management are critical to sustain the native fish component of this river.