Fish and Aquatic Biota

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Long-term Limnological and Aquatic Resource Monitoring for Lakes Mead and Mohave

Category 2:

NPS employee holds striped bass
An NPS employee holds a striped bass caught during a monitoring survey.

NPS photo

Several fish species inhabit Lakes Mead and Mohave, including game, non-game, and federally listed species that depend on clean water and high quality habitat to maintain healthy populations. Lake Mead provides a nationally recognized sport fishery with an average of 205,1641 angler use days annually, making it the most popular destination for fishing in Nevada. Lake Mohave is also a popular sport-fishing destination that supports, on average, 45,1061 angler use days annually. Predominant introduced sport fish within these lakes include largemouth bass, striped bass, blue gill, and channel catfish, among others. The fishery is dependent primarily upon threadfin shad (forage fish) production as a food source. Lakes Mead and Mohave also provide habitat for populations of razorback sucker, a federally endangered fish endemic to the Colorado River system. Lake Mohave houses the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, which produces thousands of rainbow trout and raises imperiled fishes such as razorback sucker and bonytail chub for reintroduction efforts. Fish require high water quality and available food resources to maintain healthy populations. Monitoring and research are necessary to track populations and determine health status. Management of both lakes to meet recreational, wastewater, drinking water, hydropower, and flood management needs must be balanced to ensure the integrity of fish populations and their habitats are sustained.

Strategic fundamental objectives for this category:

  • A healthy sportsfishery
  • Healthy populations of native fish
  • Healthy populations of aquatic dependent wildlife

Management questions best answered by monitoring:

  • What are the status and trends of sport fish? more
  • What are the distributions, reproduction rates, and recruitment levels of native, non-native, and invasive fish? How does sediment distribution affect spawning potential and reproductive success of sensitive species? (See also Category 4). more
  • What is the biological, chemical, and physical condition of razorback sucker spawning and rearing habitat? Does water quality support recovery of razorback suckers? more
  • What is the status and trend of the forage base/plankton? more
  • What contaminants are present in native and non-native fish tissues and to what extent is fish health impaired? Which contaminants, if any, pose a risk to the public (i.e., human health)? (See also Category 3). more
  • What are the impacts of invasive species on nutrients? (See also Category 3). more

Management questions best answered by research:

  • What factors (biotic and abiotic) influence invasive fish (e.g., tilapia) distribution and abundance? more
  • What food-web dynamics are in place in Lakes Mead and Mohave? How are these dynamics being altered by drought, invasive species, climate change, and other emerging threats? Are upper trophic levels being adequately maintained to support robust wildlife populations? more
  • What are the native and sportfish population dynamics? more
  • What is the ecosystem status; are the historic range and frequency of aquatic habitat conditions being maintained? more
  • To what extent are endocrine disruptors or hormonally active agents interfering with fish health and reproduction. What is the prevalence of intersex in fish? (See also Category 3). more
  • How can razorback sucker recovery in Lakes Mead and Mohave be enhanced? Are threats of (1) habitat modification/loss; (2) non-native predation; and (3) contaminants being adequately addressed? more


1. (Nevada Department of Wildlife 2004 - 2008 data)


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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