Fragmentation and Drought Legacy Correlate with Distribution of Burrhead Chub in Subtropical Streams of North America Academic Article uri icon


  • Burrhead Chub Macrhybopsis marconis is a species of special concern endemic to subtropical streams in south Texas. We documented life history attributes and historical patterns in abundance and distribution to aid in understanding range-wide declines of the species among the Colorado and Guadalupe-San Antonio River systems. Life history results suggest Burrhead Chub lives for 2 years, reaches sexual maturity at age-1, and spawns multiple clutches during March-September. Review of museum vouchers revealed Burrhead Chub is now missing from 26% of its historical range, including most impounded stream segments. There was a significant difference in the size of stream fragments for which Burrhead Chub is missing or still persists. Timing of many extirpations occurred after fragmentation and coincided with a record drought (1949-1959) when range-wide stream flows were exceedingly low during the Burrhead Chub reproductive season. Furthermore, extensive historical collections taken during 1950- 1961 in the Guadalupe River revealed a decline in relative abundance in upstream reaches as the drought continued. Based on these data, we hypothesize that Burrhead Chub experienced range-wide declines associated with historical drought conditions in desiccated stream fragments. Following the drought, stream flows recovered but recolonization by Burrhead Chub was blocked by impoundments in many fragments. These findings support previous linkages between stream connectivity, flow magnitude, and the persistence of fish populations while providing insight into the mechanisms driving freshwater fish declines in the plains of North America. American Fisheries Society 2013.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Perkin, J. S., Shattuck, Z. R., Gerken, J. E., & Bonner, T. H.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Perkin, Joshuah S||Shattuck, Zachary R||Gerken, Joseph E||Bonner, Timothy H

publication date

  • August 2013