The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Gila topminnow returned to Santa Cruz downtown

Monday, November 2, 2020

Last week, AZ Game and Fish, the Sonoran Institute, and SNRE teamed up to transport around 550 Gila topminnow from a southern portion of the river to the stretch of the Santa Cruz running through downtown Tucson. The Gila topminnow disappeared with the drying up of the Santa Cruz more than a century ago, and this will be the first time they’ve inhabited this stretch of river since then.
 
The Gila topminnow is an endangered species important to Arizona’s rivers and streams. The species plays an integral role in the local ecosystem, linking aquatic and terrestrial foodwebs:
 
“It restores ecological function so these fish will help eat mosquitos, they’ll help to contribute too as a food source for birds and other parts of the ecosystem. But I think there’s an important cultural part of it as well, that, this is part of our biocultural heritage; these native species that we had in Tucson so bringing them back is wonderful,”  
~ Dr. Michael Bogan, SNRE
 
Dr. Bogan and his students have been working tirelessly with the City of Tucson to restore the Santa Cruz back to its historical conditions and document the biodiversity that now flourishes in and along the banks of the flowing reaches. In addition to the Gila topminnow, Tucson's section of the Santa Cruz is now home to herons, cottonrats, and a plethora of dragonfly species.
 
Read or listen to the full report from KOLD News 13 here
 
Slideshow Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash: a Tricolored Heron catches a minnow in Sebastian, Florida