Conservation Genetics of Five Species of Dionda in West Texas



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Minnows of the genus Dionda (Cyprinidae, Teleostei) inhabit spring-fed streams in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Five nominal species of Dionda (D. argentosa, D. diaboli, D. episcopa, D. nigrotaeniata and D. serena) are found in streams and rivers in central and west Texas. Because Dionda require clean, flowing water, they serve as aquatic indicator species of biological impacts of drought and human water use. Consequently, the ecological and conservation status of species of Dionda are important relative to monitoring habitat deterioration. This study used genetic data from geographic samples of the five nominal species of Dionda in Texas waters to document the conservation-genetics status of populations in each species. Fish were collected in cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Data from 585 base pairs of the mitochondrially encoded, protein coding ND-5 gene and from 21 to 33 nuclear-encoded microsatellites were used to assess genetic variation, population structure, historical demography, and genetic effective size of samples of each of the five species. The sample from Independence Creek, initially assumed to be D. episcopa because of its location, was found to be D. argentosa. Results of genetic assays indicate that each geographic sample in each species should be treated as a separate population and managed in a way that preserves the natural diversity found within each species. Genetic data revealed that all of the populations evaluated may be compromised genetically and should be monitored further.