Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis - (Girard, 1856)
Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
Synonym(s): Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis (Girard, 1856)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis (Girard, 1856) (TSN 553428)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103418
Element Code: AFCHA02085
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Salmon and Trouts
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Salmoniformes Salmonidae Oncorhynchus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Smith, G. R., and R. F. Stearley. 1989. The classification and scientific names of rainbow and cutthroat trouts. Fisheries (Bethesda) 14(1):4-10.
Concept Reference Code: A89SMI01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis
Taxonomic Comments: Readily hybridizes (or introgresses) with other spring spawning trout such as introduced rainbow trout or other subspecies of cutthroat (Sublette et al. 1990). See Behnke (1992) for a discussion of taxonomic history.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4T3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Jul2002
Global Status Last Changed: 10Jul2002
Rounded Global Status: T3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Small range in the Rio Grande drainage of Colorado and New Mexico; at least 13 large, genetically pure, unthreatened populations; 200+ smaller, hybridized, or otherwise threatened populations; favorable protection and management in place; secure and likely to improve in status with active management.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (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 Colorado (S3), New Mexico (S2)

Other Statuses

American Fisheries Society Status: Threatened (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Historical range is not definitely known; probably encompassed all "trout waters" in the Rio Grande drainage, including the Chama, Jemez, and Rio San Jose drainages along with those of the Pecos and Canadian drainages (Sublette et al. 1990, Behnke 1992). It is uncertain whether this subspecies was naturally present historically in the Canadian River basin (USFWS 2002). Present range includes New Mexico and Colorado; southernmost distribution is Indian Creek in the Lincoln National Forest and Animas Creek in the Gila National Forest, southern New Mexico (Rinne 1995); ranges north to headwater tributaries in the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests in southwestern Colorado; there are few lake and introduced populations; possibly may have occurred formerly also in Texas and Mexico (see Behnke 1992). See Sublette et al. (1990) for details on distribution in New Mexico.

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Number of distinct occurrences is unknown. Approximately 106 "populations" currently exist in New Mexico, and 161 in Colorado (see USFWS 2002). Some of these populations are hybridized, small, and/or include non-native competing salmonids. At least 30 genetically pure remnant populations are distributed rangewide (USFWS 2002); including transplanted populations, there are about 100 pure populations (USFWS 2002). About two dozen populations are pure and large (see population size comments). USFWS (2002) identified 13 populations that are pure (confirmed by appropriate genetic testing), have over 2,500 fish, are secured by a barrier, and do not coexist with non-natives; because of the habitat conditions and tubifex worm scarcity, these are not threatened by whirling disease (USFWS 2002). Several additional populations may also meet these criteria (USFWS 2002).

Population Size Comments: There are about 22 pure populations with more than 2500 individuals, 11 pure populations in New Mexico and 10 in Colorado that have more than 500 and less than 2,500 individuals, and 15 populations in both states with less than 500 individuals. Currently occupies 480 miles of stream and 1,120 acres of lake habitats in Colorado and 260 miles of stream habitat in New Mexico (USFWS 1998).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Much habitat has been degraded by overgrazing by livestock (reduces streambank cover); other threats include loss of streamside cover resulting from timber harvest, hybridization (or introgression) (e.g., with rainbow trout), and competition with various introduced salmonids (Sublette et al. 1990; see USFWS 2002 for details). Actual effects of grazing and timber harvest have not been well studied, nor has dewatering caused by irrigation diversion (Rinne 1995). Suffering from poor winter habitat, stream intermittency, and deteriorating water quality resulting from drought (Rinne 1995). Susceptible to habitat loss/degradation resulting from wildfires. Highly vulnerable to replacement by non-native trout; in New Mexico, the brown trout seems to be a bigger threat than is the brook trout; more vulnerable to angling than are coexisting trout (Behnke 1992). Habitat is fragmented (USFWS 2002), and most populations are isolated in headwater habitats, and gene flow among populations is virtually nonexistent (Rinne 1995). Overutilization is not regarded as a threat (USFWS 2002).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Now relatively stable and subject to a high level of monitoring and management (USFWS 1998, 2002).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Has declined greatly over the long term; now occupies as little as 5-7% of the historical range (see Rinne 1995).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Stream surveys should be continued (Rinne 1995).

Distribution
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Global Range: Historical range is not definitely known; probably encompassed all "trout waters" in the Rio Grande drainage, including the Chama, Jemez, and Rio San Jose drainages along with those of the Pecos and Canadian drainages (Sublette et al. 1990, Behnke 1992). It is uncertain whether this subspecies was naturally present historically in the Canadian River basin (USFWS 2002). Present range includes New Mexico and Colorado; southernmost distribution is Indian Creek in the Lincoln National Forest and Animas Creek in the Gila National Forest, southern New Mexico (Rinne 1995); ranges north to headwater tributaries in the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests in southwestern Colorado; there are few lake and introduced populations; possibly may have occurred formerly also in Texas and Mexico (see Behnke 1992). See Sublette et al. (1990) for details on distribution in New Mexico.

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.

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CO, NM

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Alamosa (08003), Archuleta (08007), Conejos (08021), Costilla (08023), Custer (08027), Hinsdale (08053), Huerfano (08055), Mineral (08079), Rio Grande (08105), Saguache (08109), San Juan (08111)
NM Colfax (35007), Mora (35033), Rio Arriba (35039), San Miguel (35047), Sandoval (35043), Santa Fe (35049), Sierra (35051), Taos (35055)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
11 Arkansas Headwaters (11020001)+, Huerfano (11020006)+, Canadian headwaters (11080001)+, Cimarron (11080002)+, Upper Canadian (11080003)+, Mora (11080004)+*
13 Rio Grande headwaters (13010001)+, Alamosa-Trinchera (13010002)+, San Luis (13010003)+, Saguache (13010004)+, Conejos (13010005)+, Upper Rio Grande (13020101)+, Rio Chama (13020102)+, Rio Grande-Santa Fe (13020201)+, Jemez (13020202)+, Rio Puerco (13020204)+, Caballo (13030101)+, Pecos headwaters (13060001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A trout.
General Description: A large-spotted form is isolated in the Pecos River basin (Behnke 1992).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from greenback and Colorado River cutthroat trout by having fewer scales (typically 150-180 in the lateral series and 35-45 above the lateral line) and by the irregular shape of the spots on the caudal peduncle (Behnke 1992).
Reproduction Comments: Spawns from March through July, depending on water temperature (Sublette et al. 1990); mainly May-June in New Mexico (see USFWS 2002). In colder waters, growth is slow, and age at maturity may be 4 years (Rinne 1995).
Ecology Comments: Estimated density ranges from a few hundred to several thousand individuals per ha (see Rinne 1995).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Whether migratory stocks exist or existed is unknown (USFWS 2002).
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, Pool, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Most populations are restricted to small headwater streams (Behnke 1992) where allochthonous materials are the primary energy input (Sublette et al. 1990). Spawns occurs in clean gravel; nursery habitat is often along stream margins in slower water; winter habitat includes deep pools (may be limiting in headwaters) (USFWS 2002). Stream lengths of about 5 miles (8 km) or more provide the most favorable habitat (see USFWS (2002).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Feeds opportunistically on terrestrial insects and aquatic macroinvertebrates. Young-of-the-year and juveniles of fishes such as Rio Grande chub, longnose dace, Rio Grande sucker, white sucker, creek dace, and southern redbelly dace may serve as prey for adults (Rinne 1995).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Removing non-native salmonids and installing barriers to prevent upstream movement of non-native trout are vital to maintaining and increasing range and abundance (Rinne 1995). See USFWS (2002) for further information on conservation opportunities.
Management Research Needs: Basic life history attributes, habitat requirements, and limiting factors, including the specific effects of other fishes, need to be determined (Rinne 1995).
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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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: 06Jul2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 10Jul2002
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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  • Alves, J. A. 1996. Rio Grande cutthroat trout management plan. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver.

  • Alves, J., D. Krieger, and T. Nesler. 2004. Conservation plan for Rio Grande cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis) in Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife. 70 pp.

  • Behnke, R. J. 1979. The native trouts of the genus Salmo of western North America. Report to USFWS. Denver, Colorado.

  • Behnke, R. J. 1992. Native trout of western North America. American Fisheries Society Monograph 6. xx + 275 pp.

  • Girard, C., E. Hallowell, J. Cassin, and J. Leidy. 1856. October 28th; Notice upon the species of the genus Salmo, of authors, observed chiefly in Oregon and California. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia:216-221.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pritchard, V. L. and D. E. Cowley. 2006. Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis): a technical conservation assessment. [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/riograndecutthroattrout.pdf

  • Propst, D. L., and M. A. McInnis. 1975. Ananalysis of streams containing native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Salmo clarki virginalis, on the Santa Fe National Forest. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Boulder.

  • Rinne, J. R. 1995a. Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Pages 24-27 in M. K. Young, technical editor. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-256. iv + 61 pp.

  • Rinne, J.N. 1995c. Reproductive biology of the Rio Grande sucker, Catostomus plebeius (Cypriniformes), in a montane stream, New Mexico. Southwestern Naturalist 40:237-241.

  • Smith, G. R., and R. F. Stearley. 1989. The classification and scientific names of rainbow and cutthroat trouts. Fisheries (Bethesda) 14(1):4-10.

  • Stefferud, J. A. 1988. Rio Grande Cutthroat trout management in New Mexico. In R. E. Gresswell, editor. Status and management of interior stocks of cutthroat trout. American Fisheries Society Symposium 4:90-92.

  • Sublette, J. E., M. D Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. University New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 393 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 11 June 2002. Candidate status review for Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Federal Register 67(112):39936-39947.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 14 September 1998. 90-day finding for a petition to list the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Federal Register 63(177):49062-49063.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2009. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 74(215):57804-57878.

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