Catostomus warnerensis - Snyder, 1908
Warner Sucker
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Catostomus warnerensis Snyder, 1908 (TSN 163915)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100954
Element Code: AFCJC02220
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Suckers
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Cypriniformes Catostomidae Catostomus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B91ROB01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Catostomus warnerensis
Taxonomic Comments: See Smith (1992) for a study of the phylogeny and biogeography of the Catostomidae.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Nov2011
Global Status Last Changed: 19Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Restricted to one small hydrologic basin in Oregon and very small areas in Nevada and California; threatened by habitat alteration (caused mainly by dams and diversions) and by predation by exotic fishes; these factors are exacerbated by drought.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Dec1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Nevada (S1), Oregon (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (27Sep1985)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R1 - Pacific
IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This fish is endemic to the Warner Lake Basin in south-central Oregon, extreme northeastern California, and extreme northwestern Nevada (USFWS 2010). This range includes three permanent lakes, Hart, Crump, and Pelican; the ephemeral Anderson, Swamp, Mugwump, Flagstaff, Upper Campbell, Campbell, Stone Coral, and Bluejoint lakes; and all the sloughs and canals connecting these lakes; and three major stream basins that are tributaries to these lakes (Deep Creek, Twentymile Creek, and Honey Creek) (USFWS 2010).

Current distribution: When adequate water is present, Warner suckers may inhabit all the lakes, sloughs, and potholes in the Warner Valley (USFWS 1998). The documented range extended as far north into the ephemeral lakes as Flagstaff Lake during high water in the early 1980s and again in the 1990s (Allen et al. 1996). Stream resident populations are found in Honey Creek, Snyder Creek (tributary to Honey Creek), Twentymile Creek, and Twelvemile Creek. Intermittent streams in these drainages may support small numbers of migratory suckers in high water years (USFWS 1998). In the lower Twentymile Slough area on the east side of the Warner Valley, White et al. (1990) collected adult and young suckers throughout the slough and Greaser Reservoir. This area dried up in 1991. However, because of its marshy character, this area may be important sucker habitat during high flows. Larval, young-of-the-year, juvenile and adult suckers captured immediately below Greaser Dam suggest either a slough resident population or lake resident suckers migrating up the Twentymile Slough channel from Crump Lake to spawn (White et al. 1990, Allen et al. 1996). [Source: USFWS 1998]

Area of Occupancy: 101-500 1-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy usually is not much more than more than a 100 square kilometers. It varies with drought-influenced water availability. Occupied primary habitat has been estimated at 55 kilometers of stream, plus habitat in the three permanent lakes, which total 62 square kilometers. However, due to drought episodes, the area of lake habitat typically is less than this total area of the lakes (USFWS 2010). Designated critical habitat includes 69 kilometers of stream.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by essentially one metapopulation, the subpopulations of which fluctuate with water availability.

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but appears to be at least several thousand. USFWS (1998, 2010) provided summaries of available data.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The major threats to the continued existence of the Warner sucker and other native fishes in the Warner Basin and Alkali Subbasin are human-induced stream channel and watershed degradation, irrigation diversion practices, and predation and competition from introduced fishes (USFWS 1998, 2010).

Irrigation dams and canals block access to some spawning streams, which may be negatively affected by water pollution and siltation. Natural decreases in water levels periodically reduce the sucker population during periods of drought, which are aggravated by irrigation demands for water. The introduction of exotic predaceous fishes to the Warner Valley in the early 1970s evidently led to large reductions in the numbers of Warner suckers, which previously had more extensive availability of safe rearing habitat, even with degraded stream conditions and blockages of migration corridors (USFWS 1998). Exotic fishes may also threaten the sucker through competitive interactions (USFWS 1998). Drying of the lakes in the early 1990s reduced but did not eliminate populations of exotic fishes (they persist in sloughs and ditches) (USFWS 1998).

This species remains vulnerable to predation by exotic fishes and is negatively affected by modification of habitat through the continued operation of water diversions and barriers that restrict movement and migration. Prolonged drought, particularly desiccation of lakes from drought and irrigation use and the drying or reduced stream flow of stream channels from irrigation water removal, greatly impact the species' viability and recovery (USFWS 2010).

The Warner sucker exists as two morphs, lake morph and stream morph. These face somewhat different threats. The lake morph suckers normally spawn in the streams, but they are often blocked from doing so by irrigation diversion structures or during low water years. Large lake-dwelling populations of introduced fishes have probably reduced recruitment by preying on young suckers. Stream habitat degradation has reduced suitable habitat and probably reduced the ability of stream morph suckers to withstand floods and droughts (USFWS 1998).

Short-term Trend: Unknown
Short-term Trend Comments: In general, trends are characterized by large fluctuations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >10%
Long-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size vary with water availability. In general, population size appears to have declined greatly compared to the historical situation (see USFWS 1998). The degree of decline is unknown.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: See recovery plan (USFWS 1998).

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)) This fish is endemic to the Warner Lake Basin in south-central Oregon, extreme northeastern California, and extreme northwestern Nevada (USFWS 2010). This range includes three permanent lakes, Hart, Crump, and Pelican; the ephemeral Anderson, Swamp, Mugwump, Flagstaff, Upper Campbell, Campbell, Stone Coral, and Bluejoint lakes; and all the sloughs and canals connecting these lakes; and three major stream basins that are tributaries to these lakes (Deep Creek, Twentymile Creek, and Honey Creek) (USFWS 2010).

Current distribution: When adequate water is present, Warner suckers may inhabit all the lakes, sloughs, and potholes in the Warner Valley (USFWS 1998). The documented range extended as far north into the ephemeral lakes as Flagstaff Lake during high water in the early 1980s and again in the 1990s (Allen et al. 1996). Stream resident populations are found in Honey Creek, Snyder Creek (tributary to Honey Creek), Twentymile Creek, and Twelvemile Creek. Intermittent streams in these drainages may support small numbers of migratory suckers in high water years (USFWS 1998). In the lower Twentymile Slough area on the east side of the Warner Valley, White et al. (1990) collected adult and young suckers throughout the slough and Greaser Reservoir. This area dried up in 1991. However, because of its marshy character, this area may be important sucker habitat during high flows. Larval, young-of-the-year, juvenile and adult suckers captured immediately below Greaser Dam suggest either a slough resident population or lake resident suckers migrating up the Twentymile Slough channel from Crump Lake to spawn (White et al. 1990, Allen et al. 1996). [Source: USFWS 1998]

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States NV, OR

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NV Washoe (32031)
OR Lake (41037)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Warner Lakes (17120007)+, Guano (17120008)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A thick-lipped fish less than 14 inches long.
Reproduction Comments: Reaches maturity at 3-4 years of age. Spawns in the spring when stream flows are relatively high (USFWS 1998).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Ascends streams to spawn.
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, Pool
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes lakes, ephemeral bodies of water, streams, beaver ponds, and pools and runs of streams and large irrigation canals (Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011). Adults in streams tend to be in pools. In lakes, suckers are generally found in the deepest available water (generally less than 3.4 meters deep) where food is plentiful (USFWS 1998).

Spawning occurs over silt-free sand or gravel substrates in slow pools in low gradient streams (White et al. 1990, Kennedy and North 1993). At least some young move immediately into lakes (Lee et al. 1980). In years when access to stream spawning areas is limited by low flow or by physical in-stream blockages (such as beaver dams or diversion structures), suckers may attempt to spawn on gravel beds along the lake shorelines (White et al. 1990).

Larvae occupy shallow backwater pools or on stream margins where there is no current, often among or near macrophytes. Young-of-the-year are often found over deep, still water from midwater to the surface, but also move into faster flowing areas near the heads of pools (Coombs et al. 1979). Juvenile suckers (1-2 years old) are usually found at the bottom of deep pools or in other habitats that are relatively cool and permanent such as near springs. As with adults, juveniles prefer areas of the streams which are protected from the main flow (Coombs et al. 1979).

Length: 35 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: "Recovery of the Warner sucker will depend upon the construction of fish passage structures to interconnect population segments and allow access to spawning habitat in streams, screening of diversions to avoid direct take of individuals, and stream flow management strategies to ensure adequate flows to sustain all life stages and histories of Warner sucker. Additionally, control of non-native fish will help to maintain the lake morph life history of the Warner sucker. The development and implementation of these necessary measures is expected to have a high level of conflict because: 1) the utility and additional costs and maintenance of fish passage and screening projects are a concern to some private landowners; 2) water in the Warner basin is already the subject of conflict by water users in the basin; and 3) the non-native fish in the Warner Lakes are a popular recreational fishery." Source: USFWS (2010).

See "Recovery plan for the native fishes of the Warner basin and Alkali subbasin" (USFWS 1998).

Management Requirements: Existing dams and diversion structures could be modified to keep suckers from being washed into irrigation ditches and to allow access to upstream spawning areas.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Medium suckers

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs and larvae) in appropriate habitat.
Mapping Guidance: Occupied locations that are separated by a gap of 15 km or more of any aquatic habitat that is not known to be occupied represent different occurrences. However, it is important to evaluate migrations and seasonal changes in habitat to ensure that spawning areas and nonspawning areas for a single population are not artificially segregated as different occurrences simply because there have been no collections/observations in an intervening area that may exceed the separation distance.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 15 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 15 km
Separation Justification: Data on dispersal and other movements generally are not available. In some species, individuals may migrate variable distances between spawning areas and nonspawning habitats.

Separation distances (in aquatic kilometers) for catostomids are arbitrary but reflect the presumption that movements and appropriate separation distances generally should increase with fish size. Hence small, medium, and large catostomids, respectively, have increasingly large separation distances. Separation distance reflects the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of aquatic habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality.

Occupied locations that are separated by a gap of 15 km or more of any aquatic habitat that is not known to be occupied represent different occurrences. However, it is important to evaluate seasonal changes in habitat to ensure that an occupied habitat occurrence for a particular population does not artificially separate spawning areas and nonspawning areas as different occurrences simply because there have been no collections/observations in an intervening area that may exceed the separation distance.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: This Specs Group includes catostomids that typically are 20-40 cm in adult standard length.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Nov2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and B. Qureshi
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Nov2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Allen, C., K. Hartzell, and M. Stern. 1996. Warner sucker progress report - 1996 findings. Unpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management. 55 pp.

  • Coombs, C. I., C. E. Bond, and S. F. Drohan. 1979. Spawning and early life history of the Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis). Unpublished report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 52 pp.

  • Jelks, H. L., S. J. Walsh, N. M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D. A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N. E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J. S. Nelson, S. P. Platania, B. A. Porter, C. B. Renaud, J. Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, E. B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.

  • Kennedy, T B., and J. F. North. 1993. 1992 Report: Drift behavior and distribution ofWarner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis) and preliminary assessment of stream habitat conditions in the Warner Valley, Oregon. Unpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 25 pp.

  • Kennedy, T. B., and G. L. Vinyard. 1997. Drift ecology of western catostomid larvae with emphasis on Warner suckers, Catostomus warnerensis (Teloestei). Environmental Biology of Fishes 49:187-195.

  • Kennedy, T. B., and G. L. Vinyard. 2006. Ecology of young stream resident Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis) in Warner Basin, Oregon. American Midland Naturalist 156:400-404.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

  • Sigler, W. F., and J. W. Sigler. 1987. Fishes of the Great Basin: a natural history. University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada. xvi + 425 pp.

  • Smith, G. R. 1992. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Catostomidae, freshwater fishes of North America and Asia. Pages 778-826 in R.L. Mayden, editor. Systematics, historical ecology, and North American freshwater fishes. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. xxvi + 969 pp.

  • Tait, C. K., and E. J. Mulkey. 1993. Estimation of stream-resident Warner sucker abundance and total habitat area in two basins using a statistically valid sampling design. Unpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 40 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1998. Recovery plan for the native fishes of the Warner Basin and Alkali Subbasin. USFWS, Portland, Oregon. x + 86 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2010. Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis) 5-year review: summary and evaluation. USFWS, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, Portland, Oregon.

  • White, R. K., T. R. Hoitsma, M. A. Stern, and A. V. Munhall. 1990. Final report on investigations of the range and status of the Warner sucker, Catostomus warnerensis, during spring and summer 1990. Unpublished report to the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 66 pp.

  • White, R.K. 1991. Letter describing snorkel survey for Warner sucker in Twelvemile Creek in Nevada. The Nature Conservancy, HC 10 Box 580, Lakeview, OR 97630.

  • Williams, J. E., M. A. Stern, A. V. Munhall, and G. A. Anderson. 1990. Conservation status of threatened fishes in Warner Basin, Oregon. Great Basin Naturalist 50(3):243-8.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Master, L. L. 1996. Synoptic national assessment of comparative risks to biological diversity and landscape types: species distributions. Summary Progress Report submitted to Environmental Protection Agency. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia. 60 pp.

  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996b. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia: Export of freshwater fish and mussel records west of the Mississippi River in 1997. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

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