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Response of the shrimp population in the Upper Gulf of California to fluctuations in discharges of the Colorado River

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Since 1935, the freshwater discharge from the Colorado River into the Gulf of California has decreased drastically, affecting the biological cycles of endemic species and other endangered species. In this study, a relationship was determined between the Colorado River freshwater discharge, the abundance of blue shrimp, Litopenaeus stylirostris (Stimpson, 1874) postlarvae, and the density of adult shrimp in the Upper Gulf of California (UGC). Data on Colorado River flow from 1904 to 2002, blue shrimp postlarvae from 1993 to 1997, and records of daily catches from pangas (small boats) of the commercial fleet operating in UGC from 1995 to 2002, were analysed. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) was used as a measure of the average daily density of adult shrimp. Two groups of CPUE and postlarvae abundance were found, with significant differences between them. The highest population density was observed in the years when the river flow was greater than 80 m3s. The lowest density was found for periods when the river flow was lower than 80 m3s. We conclude that the response of the shrimp population is non-linear and that postlarvae abundance and commercial fleet CPUE increased during the years in which freshwater discharge was highest, possibly because the habitat volume increased, consequently resulting in increased food availability for the shrimp. A partir del año de 1935, las descargas de agua dulce del Río Colorado al Golfo de California han disminuido drásticamente, afectando el ciclo biológico de especies endémicas y otras en peligro de extinción. En este estudio, se determinó una relación entre la descarga de agua dulce del Río Colorado, la abundancia de postlarva de camarón azul Litopenaeus stylirostris (Stimpson, 1874) y la densidad de adultos de camarón en el Alto Golfo de California (AGC). Se utilizó información del flujo del Río Colorado de 1904 a 2002, de postlarva de camarón azul de 1993-1997 y los registros de captura diaria de las pangas de la flota comercial que operó en el AGC de 1995 a 2002. Como medida de densidad promedio diario de los adultos se utilizó la captura por unidad de esfuerzo (CPUE). Se encontraron dos grupos de abundancia de postlarva y CPUE, con diferencias significativas entre ellos. El valor superior se presenta en los años cuando el flujo del río fue mayor que 80 m3s−1. El grupo del valor inferior se presentó cuando el flujo del río estaba a menos de 80 m3s−1. Se concluyó que la respuesta de la población de camarón no es lineal y que la abundancia de postlarva y la CPUE de la flota comercial aumentaron en años cuando la descarga de agua dulce era mayor, posiblemente porque se expandió el volumen del hábitat y con esto hubo una mayor disponibilidad de alimento.

Affiliations: 1: Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Regional, Unidad Sinaloa, Blvd Juan de Dios Batiz Paredes # 250, Guasave, Sinaloa 81101, Mexico; 2: Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Unidad Sonora, Km 2.35 Camino al Tular, Estero de Bacochibampo, Guaymas, Sonora 85454, Mexico


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