Avoiding Extinction: An Evaluation of Short-Term Recovery Recommendations for the Endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Policy And Management

Organizational Unit

University College, Environmental Policy and Management


Environmental Policy And Management

First Advisor

Harold Tyus


Endangered species, New Mexico, Endangered species recovery, Fishes, Conservation, Habitat management, Natural resource management, Rare fishes, Rio Grande, Silvery minnow, Water rights, Water-supply


The endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus; RGSM) is nearing extinction and requires immediate recovery actions. In a draft report to the Middle Rio Grande Program, a Program Advisory Panel (PAP) recommended 34 short-term recovery measures to be implemented within the next five years, and 21 long-term recovery actions. However, these recommendations need further analysis to determine if and how the actions could be implemented. This project evaluated short-term recommendations provided by the PAP to identify the most effective and rank the relative importance of the actions. These recommendations were divided into 7 recovery categories: population augmentation (5 recommendations); hydrologic regimen (4 recommendations); physical habitat (3 recommendations); biological component of habitat (2 recommendations); population monitoring (6 recommendations); monitoring, analysis, and modeling (12 recommendations); and information and planning (2 recommendations). Each recommendation was evaluated for its potential to produce anticipated recovery progress for the RGSM based on assessments of the degree of feasibility, cost effectiveness, and associated potential consequences if fully implemented. In addition, other alternatives in a range of options were also considered where applicable. In each case, recommendations were evaluated from on-site visits, interviews with researchers and resource managers, and literature review. Based on the research findings, three major groupings of the recovery categories were identified: natural aspects of recovery, program aspects of recovery, and emergency measures. At least one recovery category within each major grouping was considered important by the respondents, which indicates that each grouping is of high importance in relation to the situation at hand. However, actions within each grouping have varying priorities given constraints on available resources, time, and budget. An integrated approach that accounts for the complexity of the river system and the species itself was considered the best approach to avoid extinction while ensuring long-term sustainability. Results of these analyses were provided directly to the PAP for their review, and it is anticipated that project results could advance implementation of the most appropriate immediate recovery actions needed to prevent extinction of the RGSM.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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