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Dionda diaboli 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Cypriniformes Cyprinidae

Scientific Name: Dionda diaboli
Species Authority: Hubbs & Brown, 1957
Common Name(s):
English Devil's River Minnow

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-11-23
Assessor(s): NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Ormes, M.
This species is listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 sq km, area of occupancy is less than 500 sq km, the species occurs in not more than five locations, the distribution may be severely fragmented, and the species is probably experiencing declines in habitat quality, population size, and area of occupancy in parts of the historical range. Also, in the United States, the species is vulnerable to declines in habitat quality and to reductions in distribution and abundance due to non-native species
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 1996 – Vulnerable (VU)
  • 1994 – Vulnerable (V)
  • 1990 – Vulnerable (V)
  • 1988 – Vulnerable (V)
  • 1986 – Vulnerable (V)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Devils River Minnow historically occurred in tributaries to the Rio Grande in Texas and Coahuila, Mexico; it was never recorded in the mainstem Rio Grande or the Rio Conchos drainage (USFWS 1999, 2005). Currently the species is known from three streams in Val Verde and Kinney counties, Texas: Devils River, San Felipe Creek, and Pinto Creek (USFWS 2005, López-Fernández and Winemiller 2005). The Pinto Creek occurrence is represented by a large population that was recently found in previously inaccessible locations in the headwaters of that stream in Kinney County (Garrett et al. 2004). The species is believed to be extirpated from the lower portions of the Devils River (now Amistad Reservoir in Val Verde County) and Las Moras Creek (Kinney County) (USFWS 2005, Hubbs et al. 2008). The current status of the species in Sycamore Creek, Texas, is not known (possibly extirpated; USFWS 2008). The species is apparently now rare or extirpated in the Rio San Carlos and Rio Salado basin, Coahuila, Mexico (Garrett et al. 2004, USFWS 2005). Overall, populations are restricted to small reaches of streams that are disconnected from one another (USFWS 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Known distribution includes not more than about a half dozen extant populations (USFWS 1999, 2005; Garrett et al. 2004).

Total adult population size is unknown but presumably at least several thousand. Some recent collections included hundreds of individuals (see USFWS 2005).

Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size have substantially declined. Extirpation in Las Moras Creek and lower Devils River occurred after the species was discovered in the 1950s. A comprehensive assessment of the distribution of Devils River minnow in Texas in 1989 documented a reduced range and showed the species to be rare compared to past collections (Garrett et al. 1992). Limited information for Mexico suggests that the species has declined in range and abundance since the 1980s (see USFWS 2005).

Devils River Minnow (Dionda diaboli) populations were found to be relatively stable in abundance at various localities throughout their current U.S. range, based on multi-year monitoring studies in the Devils River, San Felipe Creek, and Pinto Creek (Desert Fishes Council 2003 meeting abstracts). However, distribution and abundance in Mexico may be declining, and ongoing threats could cause future declines in the United States.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Custom (N)

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is most abundant in fast-flowing, clear, spring-fed water over gravel. It is a channel inhabitant under normal flow regimes, but may occur in shallow riffles after flooding. In the headwaters of Pinto Creek, it was found in flowing, spring-fed waters over gravel-cobble substrates, usually associated with aquatic macrophytes (Garrett et al. 2004). In San Felipe Creek, López-Fernández and Winemiller (2005) found that Dionda diaboli was restricted to creek habitats and did not occur in the spring outflow channels; in some areas it was most numerous where aquatic macrophytes were scarce or absent, but these areas had abundant overhanging riparian vegetation.
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ongoing primary threats include: loss of spring and stream flow due to groundwater withdrawals; impacts from nonnative species, mainly Armoured Catfish (this threat has increased since the species was listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act); degradation of water quality due to pollution; and alterations of stream channel habitats (USFWS 2008).

Primary threats are habitat loss and negative effects of non-native aquatic species (USFWS 2005). The species may have been eliminated from Las Moras Creek as a result of periodic chlorination of the spring outflow for swimming pool maintenance (Garrett et al. 1992) or from drying of the spring in the 1960s (Eckhardt 2004). The range was reduced in the upper Devils River (upstream of Pecan Springs) due to lack of stream flow and in the lower Devils River due to the construction and subsequent filling of Amistad Reservoir (Garrett et al. 2004). Low flows during the last 10 years in Sycamore Creek have jeopardized that population (Garrett et al. 2004 unpubl. data). Drought could exacerbate inadequate instream flows. The future of the population in the headwaters of Pinto Creek might be threatened by reduced spring flows resulting from excessive pumping from the associated aquifer (Garrett et al. 2004). Predation by introduced Smallmouth Bass also may have been involved in the decline. The population in San Felipe Creek in the vicinity of Del Rio, Texas, may be threatened by recently introduced Armoured Catfish (Hypostomus) (López-Fernández and Winemiller 2005). Habitat in Mexico faces significant threats from industrial and agricultural development that have negatively affected streamflows, water quality, and channel characteristics (Contreras-Balderas and Lozano-Vilan 1994). See USFWS (1999, 2005) for further details.

The overall risk of extinction is elevated due to such factors as the small number of fragmented populations in relative close proximity, the small fluctuating population sizes, and the fish's short life span (see USFWS 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation measures needed include (USFWS 2005): population monitoring throughout the current range; reestablishment in Las Moras Creek, if scientifically feasible; determination of the status of populations in the Rio Salado drainage in Mexico; maintenance of adequate flows in streams supporting Devils River minnow, including Las Moras Creek (if reestablishment is feasible); protection of surface water quality, including the protection of the quality of groundwater sources of surface water flows, throughout the range, particularly in urban areas such as the cities of Del Rio and Brackettville; and reduction or elimination of deleterious effects of non-native species. Captive propagation will probably be needed for the foreseeable future (USFWS 2005). Public relations efforts should be undertaken to discourage people from introducing aquarium fishes into the San Felipe Creek system (López-Fernández and Winemiller 2005).

The primary focus of the recovery strategy for the Devil's River Minnow is the protection of naturally functioning spring and stream ecosystems within its current and potentially restorable historic range (USFWS 2005).

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.4. Abstraction of surface water (unknown use)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown   

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Micropterus dolomieu)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown   

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%)   

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Contreras-Balderas, S. and Lozano-Vilano, M.L. 1994. Water, endangered fishes, and development perspectives in arid lands of Mexico. Conservation Biology 8: 379-387.

Eckhardt, G. 2004. The Edwards Aquifer Homepage. Available at: (Accessed: Accessed June 9, 2004).

Garrett, G.P., Edwards, R.J. and Hubbs, C. 2004. Discovery of a new population of Devils river minnow (Dionda diaboli), with implications for conservation of the species. Southwestern Naturalist 49: 435-441.

Garrett, G.P., Edwards, R.J. and Price, A.H. 1992. Distribution and status of the Devils River minnow, Dionda diaboli. Southwestern Naturalist 37: 259-267.

Gold, J.R., Li, Y., Birkner, M.C. and Jenkin, J.D. 1992. Chromosomal NOR karyotypes and genome sizes in Dionda (Osteichthyes: Cyprinidae) from Texas and New Mexico. Southwestern Naturalist 37: 217-222.

Hubbs, C. and Garrett, G.P. 1990. Reestablishment of CYPRINODON EXIMIUS (Cyprinodontidae) and status of DIONDA DIABOLI (Cyprinidae) in the vicinity of Dolan Creek, Val Verde Company, Texas. Southwestern Naturalist 35: 446-448.

Hubbs, C., Edwards, R.J. and Garrett, G.P. 2008. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement, 2nd edition 43(4): 1-87.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

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

López-Fernández, H. and Winemiller, K.O. 2005. Status of Dionda diaboli and report of established populations of exotic fish species in lower San Felipe Creek, Val Verde County, Texas. Southwestern Naturalist 50: 246-251.

Mayden, R.L., Matson, R.M. and Hillis, D.M. 1992. Speciation in the North American genus DIONDA (Teleostei: Cypriniformes). In: R.L. Mayden (ed.) (ed.), Systematics, historical ecology, and North American freshwater fishes, pp. 710-746. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

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

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

Page, L.M. and Burr, B.M. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts.

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2005. Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli) recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2008. Designation of critical habitat for the Devils River minnow. Federal Register 73(156): 46988-47026.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 20 O. Final rule to list the Devils River minnow as threatened. Federal Register 64(202): 56596-56609.

Williams, J.E., Johnson, J.E., Hendrickson, D.A., Contreras-Balderas, S., Williams, J.D., Navarro-Mendoza, M., McAllister, D.E. and Deacon, J.E. 1989. Fishes of North America endangered, threatened, or of special concern: 1989. Fisheries 14: 40594.

Citation: NatureServe. 2013. Dionda diaboli. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T6623A15361553. . Downloaded on 25 July 2016.
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