Do Endangered Razorback Suckers Have Poor Larval Escape Performance Relative to Introduced Rainbow Trout?

Heather M. Wesp, Alice C. Gibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Poor recruitment has generated the hypothesis that the endangered razorback sucker Xyrauchen texanus is particularly vulnerable to predation early in its life history. We compared the escape responses of razorback suckers, which are adapted to the historically warm waters of the Colorado River, with those of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, an introduced coldwater species, throughout early development at water temperatures of 12°C and 18°C. We quantified escape performance using maximum velocity, acceleration, and time to maximum velocity and acceleration. Both species showed complete temperature compensation for escape performance; individuals reared at 12°C performed as well as those reared at 18°C. Performance was also similar between species, although two variables exhibited a species X size interaction. Small razorback suckers were faster (greater maximum velocity and acceleration) than small rainbow trout, while large larvae performed similarly. We also determined that razorback sucker larval escape performance falls within the range reported for other fishes. Therefore, we conclude that razorback suckers do not have "poor" escape performance and that temperature does not directly cause decreased performance. However, a cold temperature reduces growth rates and delays razorback suckers' attainment of a "predator- proof" size. Small larvae are also more likely to perform uncoordinated, ineffective escape responses. Hence, razorback sucker performance is indirectly diminished by temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1166-1178
Number of pages13
JournalTransactions of the American Fisheries Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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