Thin-Sectioned Otoliths Reveal Sexual Dimorphism and a 10-Year Lifespan in the Endangered Pahrump Poolfish

Alec R. Lackmann, Storm Kettelhut, Brandon L. Paulson, Cody M. Anderson, Shawn C. Goodchild, Kevin D. Guadalupe, Craig A. Stockwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Basic life history information can be useful for informing the management of protected species such as the Pahrump Poolfish Empetrichthys latos, a goodeid (Cyprinodontiformes) that is endemic to the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada, USA, and the last surviving remnant of Empetrichthys. Critically endangered and extirpated from its native range, Pahrump Poolfish has been managed among constructed refuge habitats since 1971. To better understand sex-specific age demographics, we used thin-sectioned otoliths to age 121 Pahrump Poolfish from one population, collected in June 2017. These samples suggested a maximum age of 10 years for females and 7 years for males, with a substantial portion of all fish greater than 4 years old. This is more than twice the previously reported maximum age for this species. We report on the inadequacy of reading whole otoliths, opercula, and scales for age analysis of this species. Based on thin-sectioned otoliths, we also model growth in length as a function of age among individuals. We found significant sexual dimorphism across this fish’s ontogeny, which has implications for selecting an appropriate sex ratio for founding populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank M. Snider for assistance with field work as well as J. Harter (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the Poolfish Recovery Implementation Team for providing logistical support. This work was conducted under Fish and Wildlife Service permit TE126141‐4, Nevada scientific collecting permit S‐34628, and North Dakota State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Protocol A18054. This work was supported by a Desert Fishes Council Conservation Grant and stipend support for ARL, BLP, CMA, and SK from the North Dakota State University Environmental and Conservation Sciences Graduate Program. We thank the associate editor and two anonymous reviewers for comments on this manuscript. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Fisheries Society


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