Bigscale Logperch Percina macrolepida is reported and substantiated for the first time in Arizona. A single specimen was collected during a routine survey of Cow Springs Lake on September 26, 2017, preliminarily identified as Percina sp., preserved, and retained for species identification. We verified the specimen was a Bigscale Logperch through genetic analysis. Review of published literature and the U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database suggests that this is the first known occurrence of Bigscale Logperch in Arizona. Further, three additional nonnative species were detected during our sampling events on June 21 and September 26, 2017—Smallmouth Buffalo Ictiobus bubalus, White Crappie Pomoxis annularis, and Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum—representing the first collection of these species in the Little Colorado River basin that we are aware of. We recommend further evaluation of the ecology, distribution, and abundance of these four nonnative species to better understand their effect on the native fishes of the watershed and the likelihood of establishment in the watershed and elsewhere in Arizona.
Native fish assemblages are in decline across much of North America. This is often due, in part, to physical habitat alterations (e.g., changes in substrate, temperature, water quantity and timing; Rieman and McIntyre 1995; Neebling and Quist 2008), but the continued increase in nonnative species introductions has exacerbated this decline. A variety of mechanisms have been shown to have negative effects on the abundance and distribution of native fishes when nonnative species are introduced (Nico and Fuller 1999; Minckley and Marsh 2009). Predation, competition, and hybridization with nonnatives are considered to be the primary threats to many rare, including federally listed, aquatic species (Wilcove et al. 1998). Consequently, accurate and updated records of species distributions are important for proactive and informed management of both sport fisheries and native fishes of high conservation value.
On June 21 and September 26, 2017 we conducted the first known surveys of Cow Springs Lake, Arizona, during which we identified four unexpected nonnative fish species. We identified three of these species in the field and retained the fourth for genetic analysis. The purpose of this paper is to report the discovery of Bigscale Logperch Percina macrolepida and range expansions of three other fishes in Arizona. From these findings, we encourage additional planning and management actions to identify and address potential ecological impacts of these nonnatives.
Cow Springs Lake is a shallow natural lake (∼3.6 ha) in Coconino County on the Navajo Nation near Tonalea, Arizona, fed by a natural spring and seasonal runoff (Figure 1). The lake is approximately 1,787 m above sea level in the Little Colorado River watershed (Stone et al. 2018) and the fishery consists primarily of stocked sport fish, Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus (∼4,000–5,000 annually) and Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides (last stocked in 2010). An ephemeral stream, Moenkopi Wash, could conceivably connect this lake to the Little Colorado River during extremely wet conditions. The Little Colorado River watershed is home to several native fishes of conservation concern including endangered Humpback Chub Gila cypha (U.S. Endangered Species Act [ESA 1973, as amended]; USFWS 1990) and threatened Little Colorado Spinedace Lepidomeda vittata (ESA 1973, as amended; USFWS 1997) and Apache Trout Oncorhynchus apache (ESA 1973, as amended; USFWS 2009). Other co-occurring native species that are exhibiting population declines of >10% and listed as vulnerable by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD 2012), include Speckled Dace Rhinichthys osculus, Flannelmouth Sucker Catostomus latipinnis, and Bluehead Sucker C. discobolus.
We conducted boat electrofishing (Smith-Root, Vancouver, WA; Model 18) on June 21 and September 26, 2017 to assess the fish assemblage (June survey) and remove invasive Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum (September survey) for a total of 1,800 and 7,049 s of effort, respectively (DC, 4–8 amperes, and 30–60 pulses/s). We identified most fish in the field and measured them to the nearest millimeter (total length). We euthanized any specimens that were not identifiable in the field, fixed them in hand sanitizer (63% ethyl alcohol; typical preservation supplies were not available), and returned them to our lab for genetic identification.
We individually transferred the two field-preserved tissue samples (partial intestine and caudal fin clip) to 95% ethanol prior to storage and DNA extraction at Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center. We extracted genomic DNA from these tissues using DNeasy® Blood and Tissue Kits (Qiagen, Valencia, CA) and amplified the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (COI) using the FISH COI LBC/HBC primers (Baldwin et al. 2009). Amplification consisted of 25-μL reactions containing the following: 2.5 μL DNA, 10 μL Qiagen Multiplex Master Mix® (Qiagen), 2.5 μL of both forward and reverse primers, and 10.0 μL of nuclease-free water using the following thermal cycling protocol: an initial denaturing step of 95°C for 15 min, followed by 35 cycles of 95°C for 15 s, 50°C for 15 s, and 72°C for 30 s, with a final extension of 7 min at 72°C. Amplification was confirmed using gel electrophoresis. We purified polymerase chain reaction products with positive amplification using ExoSAP-IT (Applied Biosystems, Inc., Foster City, CA) and sequenced at Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center with the Big Dye sequencing kit (ver. 3.1) on an ABI 3130xl (Applied Biosystems®) 16-capillary Genetic Analyzer. We aligned and edited sequence data using Sequencher v4.9 (Gene Codes). We gathered reference sequences of likely candidates from the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank (National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, MD) for three Percina species: Logperch P. caprodes, Texas Logperch P. carbonaria, and Bigscale Logperch P. macrolepida.
We collected a single Percina sp., measured it (110 mm), identified it to genus in the field, and preserved it for further analyses on September 26, 2017 (Figure 2). We measured the specimen after fixation as 99 mm. We also captured Gizzard Shad (n = 259; 150–471 mm), White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis; n = 74; 134–235 mm), and Smallmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus; n = 6; 302–310 mm) during the two sampling events and identified them in the field. Attempts to identify the Percina sp. using meristic characteristics (14 dorsal spines, 14 dorsal rays, 2 anal spines, 10 anal rays, 14 pectoral rays) were unsuccessful because of overlap with other potential species (e.g., Logperch, Texas Logperch).
We successfully sequenced a 600-base-pair fragment for both tissue types. To confirm species identification, we created a sequence alignment of the 21 variable nucleotide sites of Texas Logperch, Logperch, and Bigscale Logperch to examine nucleotide differences among haplotypes (Table 1). The unknown sample was identical to all 16 Bigscale Logperch reference sequences (Accession Numbers: JN028036–JN028041, DQ536430, KF558295, and NC008111), indicating that the individual found in Arizona matched the single haplotype that has been found in Texas, New Mexico, and California (Table 1).
Review of the U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database suggests that we observed and confirmed the first known occurrence of Bigscale Logperch in Arizona. White Crappie were locally known to be present in Cow Springs Lake (S. Claw, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, personal communication), but no records had been reported in the lake or elsewhere in the Little Colorado River watershed. Furthermore, we are not aware of any previous captures of Gizzard Shad or Smallmouth Buffalo in Cow Springs Lake or elsewhere in the watershed.
Bigscale Logperch are native to the Sabine, Red, and Rio Grande drainages in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico in the United States, and have been introduced to drainages in Arizona (this study), California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas (Fuller 2020; Figure 3A). Bigscale Logperch are insectivores with a maximum length of 11 cm (Page and Burr 1991). Introductions are typically accidental and impacts are largely unknown (Fuller 2020).
Gizzard Shad are native to drainages of the Southern Great Lakes, Mississippi, Atlantic, and Gulf Slope and have been introduced to adjacent drainages in the United States (Fuller et al. 2020b; Figure 3B). Gizzard Shad are planktivores that can reach lengths of 52 cm and demonstrate a high degree of invasion potential (Fuller et al. 2020b). Introductions are typically done as stockings for forage or are accidental; impacts include competition for food resulting in reduced growth and size in centrarchids and increased phytoplankton levels and turbidity (Fuller et al. 2020b).
Smallmouth Buffalo are native to drainages of the Mississippi River basin, Lake Michigan, and Gulf Slope and generally have been introduced to adjacent drainages in the United States (Fuller and Hopper 2020; Figure 3C). Smallmouth Buffalo are omnivores that can reach lengths of 78 cm (Fuller and Hopper 2020). Introductions are typically accidental and impacts have not been researched (Fuller and Hopper 2020).
White Crappie are native to the Mississippi River basin, the Southern Great Lakes, and Gulf Slope drainages, and have been widely introduced from coast to coast in the United States (Fuller et al. 2020a; Figure 3D). White Crappie are piscivores that can reach lengths of 53 cm (Fuller et al. 2020a). Typically introduced as sportfish, White Crappie may prey on native species and reduce their numbers and diversity (Fuller et al. 2020a).
Illegal human translocation or inadvertent introduction during routine stocking activities at Cow Springs Lake may explain the observed range expansions. However, methods of dispersal and future ecological impacts remain uncertain. We visited Cow Springs Lake in January 2020 to record measurements to inform renovation planning and found the lake desiccated, thus eliminating these potential source populations. We are not aware of the lake ever overflowing, but there remains a possibility that these nonnative species could have been introduced into the Little Colorado River from Cow Springs Lake via Moenkopi Wash during extreme high-water conditions. The largest known population of Humpback Chub (endangered) as well as other native fish (e.g., Flannelmouth Sucker, Bluehead Sucker) could be affected by introductions of additional nonnative fishes into the Little Colorado River. We submit these findings so that concerned scientists and managers can make informed decisions about the need for evaluating the likelihood of establishment elsewhere and possible impacts to the native fish communities and recreational fisheries of the watershed.
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Reference S1.[AZGFD] Arizona Game and Fish Department. 2012. Arizona's state wildlife action plan: 2012–2022. Phoenix: Arizona Game and Fish Department.
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Reference S2.Stone DM, Young KL, Baumler CE, Pillow MJ, Van Haverbeke D. 2018. Aquatic invasive species surveillance in the Little Colorado River Basin during 2017. Prepared for U.S. Geological Survey Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, Arizona.
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Reference S3.[USFWS] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Humpback chub recovery plan. Denver, Colorado: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Reference S4.[USFWS] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Little Colorado River Spinedace, Lepidomeda vittata, recovery plan. Albuquerque, New Mexico: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Found at DOI: https://doi.org/10.3996/JFWM-20-005.S4 (3.5 MB PDF); also available at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/Documents/RecoveryPlans/Spinedace.pdf.
Reference S5.[USFWS] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2009. Apache Trout recovery plan, second revision. Albuquerque, New Mexico: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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This work was jointly supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. We would like to thank Jennifer Johnson and Shannon Claw for assistance with field sampling, Jennifer Johnson for providing the image for Figure 2, and Jennifer Graves for developing the map figures. We thank Jennifer Graves, Dennis Stone, Kirk Young, two anonymous reviewers, and the Associate Editor for their comments on drafts of the manuscript.
Any use of trade, product, website, or firm names in this publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Citation: Jackson ZJ, Selby G, Wilson WD, Diver TA. 2020. The first record of Bigscale Logperch and range expansions of Smallmouth Buffalo, White Crappie, and Gizzard Shad in Arizona. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 11(2):542–549; e1944-687X. https://doi.org/10.3996/JFWM-20-005
The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.