Ammocrypta pellucida - (Agassiz, 1863)
Eastern Sand Darter
Synonym(s): Ammocrypta pellucidum ;Etheostoma pellucida (Putnam, 1863) ;Etheostoma pellucidum (Putnam, 1863)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ammocrypta pellucida (Putnam, 1863) (TSN 168517)
French Common Names: dard de sable
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100745
Element Code: AFCQC01060
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Perches and Darters
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Perciformes Percidae Ammocrypta
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B91ROB01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ammocrypta pellucida
Taxonomic Comments: In a phylogenetic analysis based on morphology, Simons (1991) concluded that Ammocrypta asprella should be included in the genus Crystallaria (generally has been regarded as a subgenus of Ammocrypta) and that the genus Ammocrypta should be regarded as a subgenus of Etheostoma. Page and Burr (1991), Simons (1992), and Wiley (1992) adopted this change, but Etnier and Starnes (1993) and Jenkins and Burkhead (1994) retained Ammocrypta as a distinct genus and treated Crystallaria as a subgenus. Patterns of molecular variation are consistent with the recognition of Ammocrypta species as taxonomically distinct from Etheostoma (Wood and Mayden 1997, Faber and Stepien 1998, Near et al. 2000).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 19Oct2011
Global Status Last Changed: 30Aug2009
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Discontinuous range in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada; many populations have been reduced or extirpated as a result of siltation, impoundments, and pollution, but currently populations are believed to be relatively stable in most of the range.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (30Aug2009)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2 (19Aug2017)

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 Illinois (S1), Indiana (S4), Kentucky (S4), Michigan (S1S2), New York (S2S3), Ohio (S3), Pennsylvania (S1), Vermont (S1), West Virginia (S3)
Canada Ontario (S2), Quebec (S2)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (05Jun2003)
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):T
Comments on COSEWIC: The species was considered a single unit and designated Threatened in April 1994 and November 2000. When the species was split into separate units in November 2009, the "Ontario populations" and "Quebec populations" were designated Threatened.
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
American Fisheries Society Status: Vulnerable (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range encompasses most of the Ohio River basin from western New York and eastern Illinois south to western Kentucky (present downstream to the Wabash drainage on the north side and the Cumberland on the south) (Williams 1975); southern end of Lake Huron, lakes St. Clair and Erie; disjunct population in middle St. Lawrence-Lake Champlain drainage, southern Quebec, Vermont, and New York. It is absent, though historically known, from Lake Ontario drainages (Williams 1975, Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 1991). Populations exist in Ontario and Quebec, since 1970 populations in several river systems have been extirpated. (Holm and Mandrak, 1996). In Illinois, it is now restricted to the upper Wabash drainage and is common only in the middle Embarras River and Middle Fork of the Vermilion (Smith 1979). Forbes and Richardson (1920) considered it scarce in Illinois because its habitat was limited. In West Virginia, its distribution is patchy, but it is locally abundant in Middle Island Creek and the Little Kanawha River (Stauffer et al. 1995). In Ohio it was widely distributed in inland streams, the Ohio River, and on Lake Erie beaches. Trautman (1981) detailed its decline with a distribution map. Van Meter and Trautman (1970) reported that although once numerous in Lake Erie, it had been greatly reduced in numbers or extirpated in many sections of the lake and tributaries. In New York, there are records from two tributaries to lake Erie, and it has been recently collected from the Little Salmon and Mettawee rivers (Smith 1985) and the St. Regis (Carlson, personal communication, 1998). In Kentucky, there have been recent collections from the Green, Rolling Fork, Kentucky, Licking, and Little Sandy rivers, and Blaine creek (Burr and Warren 1986). In Pennsylvania, it was reported from the Youghiogheny (Cope 1869) and Monongahela rivers (Evermann and Bollman 1886), but is now known only from French Creek (Criswell 1992) and the Presque Isle area of Lake Erie (Hendricks 1985, Kenyon and Perise 1986); apparently extirpated from the former two rivers by the late 1930s (Raney 1938). In Vermont, there are records from the Lamoille and Poultney Rivers (Smith 1985, Bouton 1986). Many reports attest to its original abundance (Evermann and Bollman 1886, Evermann and Jenkins 1889, Gilbert 1885, Meek 1889, Kirsch 1895, Osburn 1901).

Area of Occupancy: Unknown 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria.

A questionnaire was sent to eleven heritage programs in 1996 with seven responding. The following is from that survey, with data on Ontario, Quebec, Pennsylvania and New York from published sources and interviews. The questionnaire results indicated that there were just over 100 recent (since 1970) occurrences reported (over 150 including older records, prior to 1970). Largest numbers remain in Indiana (51 total, 14 since 1970), Kentucky (33 since 1969), and West Virginia (estimated 30). Ohio and Michigan both have about 10 occurrences recently verified (includes 1994 data in Michigan). States with limited numbers of occurrences include Illinois (3), Vermont (4), New York (6), and Pennsylvania (2). In Ontario, before 1970, there were 13 sites on six rivers and documented occurrences on Lake Erie. Since 1970, and following intensive surveys there are 12 sites on three rivers with populations extirpated on the four rivers. In Quebec, there were 11 sites on six rivers, one on the St. Lawrence and one lake population. Since 1970, there are 37 occurrences on seven St. Lawrence tributaries and none on the St. Lawrence or on two of the rivers where pre-1970 populations were identified (Holm and Mandrak 1996). Burr and Warren (1986) mapped about 49 post-1950 collection sites in Kentucky and noted the distribution as sporadic and localized.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000. Reported to be "seldom common" by Lee et al. (1980); described as locally common by Page and Burr (2011). Distribution is patchy in West Virginia, but the species is locally abundant in Middle Island Creek and the Little Kanawah River (Stauffer et al. 1995).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Main threats are (1) loss of habitat (clean sandy substrate) due to siltation, (2) construction of impoundments and regulation of flow resulting in changes in high flow conditions important to creating and maintaining habitat as well as sufficient flow during summer or droughts, and (3) reduction in water quality due to point and nonpoint source pollution (Trautman 1981, Spreitzer 1979, Kuehne and Barbour 1983, Cooper 1983, Smith 1985, Barnes and Carline 1977, Branson 1977, Van Meter and Trautman 1970, Page and Burr 1991, Herkert 1992, Simon 1993, Grandmaison et al. 2004).

Heavy siltation is a problem in highly industrialized and agricultural areas. Siltation can vary with the type of crops and tillage practices. Disturbance of riparian areas, such as levees or wetlands that represent silt traps can be a significant threat. Use of lampricide for management of sea lampreys could affect Lake Erie and Lake Champlain populations.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Overall, populations are believed to be currently stable (Adams and Burr 2004, Grandmaison et al. 2004). Status is believed to have improved since 1989 (Jelks et al. 2008).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Over the long term, area of occupancy and abundance have declined significantly in several areas (see reviews by Grandmaison et al. 2004, Adams and Burr 2004).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Specific about substrate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Check historical EOs for extant populations and survey additional streams with likely habitat. Inventory Lake Erie, St. Lawrence River, and other major water bodies.

Protection Needs: Protect and maintain stretches of clear, unpolluted streams and high quality riparian zones. Promote the following: good agricultural practices that reduce erosion, green belts along streams, improved treatment of municipal and industrial wastes, and care in construction of roads, bridges and buildings.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range encompasses most of the Ohio River basin from western New York and eastern Illinois south to western Kentucky (present downstream to the Wabash drainage on the north side and the Cumberland on the south) (Williams 1975); southern end of Lake Huron, lakes St. Clair and Erie; disjunct population in middle St. Lawrence-Lake Champlain drainage, southern Quebec, Vermont, and New York. It is absent, though historically known, from Lake Ontario drainages (Williams 1975, Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 1991). Populations exist in Ontario and Quebec, since 1970 populations in several river systems have been extirpated. (Holm and Mandrak, 1996). In Illinois, it is now restricted to the upper Wabash drainage and is common only in the middle Embarras River and Middle Fork of the Vermilion (Smith 1979). Forbes and Richardson (1920) considered it scarce in Illinois because its habitat was limited. In West Virginia, its distribution is patchy, but it is locally abundant in Middle Island Creek and the Little Kanawha River (Stauffer et al. 1995). In Ohio it was widely distributed in inland streams, the Ohio River, and on Lake Erie beaches. Trautman (1981) detailed its decline with a distribution map. Van Meter and Trautman (1970) reported that although once numerous in Lake Erie, it had been greatly reduced in numbers or extirpated in many sections of the lake and tributaries. In New York, there are records from two tributaries to lake Erie, and it has been recently collected from the Little Salmon and Mettawee rivers (Smith 1985) and the St. Regis (Carlson, personal communication, 1998). In Kentucky, there have been recent collections from the Green, Rolling Fork, Kentucky, Licking, and Little Sandy rivers, and Blaine creek (Burr and Warren 1986). In Pennsylvania, it was reported from the Youghiogheny (Cope 1869) and Monongahela rivers (Evermann and Bollman 1886), but is now known only from French Creek (Criswell 1992) and the Presque Isle area of Lake Erie (Hendricks 1985, Kenyon and Perise 1986); apparently extirpated from the former two rivers by the late 1930s (Raney 1938). In Vermont, there are records from the Lamoille and Poultney Rivers (Smith 1985, Bouton 1986). Many reports attest to its original abundance (Evermann and Bollman 1886, Evermann and Jenkins 1889, Gilbert 1885, Meek 1889, Kirsch 1895, Osburn 1901).

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.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States IL, IN, KY, MI, NY, OH, PA, VT, WV
Canada ON, QC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IL Champaign (17019), Clay (17025)*, Coles (17029), Crawford (17033), Cumberland (17035), Effingham (17049)*, Ford (17053)*, Jasper (17079), Lawrence (17101), Mercer (17131), Richland (17159), Vermilion (17183), Wabash (17185)*
IN Adams (18001), Allen (18003), Bartholomew (18005), Carroll (18015), Cass (18017), Clay (18021), Daviess (18027), De Kalb (18033)*, Dearborn (18029), Decatur (18031), Dubois (18037), Fountain (18045), Franklin (18047), Fulton (18049), Greene (18055), Hamilton (18057)*, Jackson (18071), Jefferson (18077), Jennings (18079), Johnson (18081), Knox (18083)*, Kosciusko (18085), Lawrence (18093), Marion (18097)*, Marshall (18099), Martin (18101), Miami (18103), Montgomery (18107), Owen (18119), Parke (18121), Pike (18125), Posey (18129)*, Pulaski (18131), Putnam (18133), Scott (18143), Shelby (18145), Starke (18149), Tippecanoe (18157), Vermillion (18165), Vigo (18167), Wabash (18169), Warren (18171), Washington (18175), White (18181)
KY Butler (21031)*, Edmonson (21061)*, Lyon (21143)*
MI Hillsdale (26059)*, Lenawee (26091)*, Livingston (26093), Macomb (26099)*, Monroe (26115)*, Oakland (26125)*, Sanilac (26151), St. Clair (26147), Wayne (26163)*
NY Cattaraugus (36009)*, Chautauqua (36013), Erie (36029), Essex (36031), Franklin (36033), St. Lawrence (36089), Washington (36115)
OH Ashtabula (39007), Athens (39009), Coshocton (39031), Fairfield (39045), Gallia (39053), Hamilton (39061), Henry (39069)*, Hocking (39073), Knox (39083), Lake (39085), Lawrence (39087), Licking (39089), Monroe (39111), Montgomery (39113), Morgan (39115), Muskingum (39119), Ottawa (39123)*, Pickaway (39129)*, Portage (39133), Ross (39141), Scioto (39145), Trumbull (39155), Tuscarawas (39157), Vinton (39163), Washington (39167), Williams (39171), Wood (39173)*
PA Crawford (42039), Erie (42049)
VT Addison (50001), Chittenden (50007), Franklin (50011), Rutland (50021)
WV Cabell (54011)*, Calhoun (54013), Clay (54015), Gilmer (54021), Kanawha (54039), Pleasants (54073), Ritchie (54085), Roane (54087), Wayne (54099), Wirt (54105)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Lake George (02010001), Winooski (02010003), Lamoille (02010005), Missisquoi (02010007)
04 St. Clair (04090001)+, Lake St. Clair (04090002)+, Detroit (04090004)+*, Huron (04090005)+, Ottawa-Stony (04100001)+*, Raisin (04100002)+*, St. Joseph (04100003)+, St. Marys (04100004)+, Upper Maumee (04100005)+, Tiffin (04100006)*, Auglaize (04100007)*, Blanchard (04100008)*, Lower Maumee (04100009)+*, Cedar-Portage (04100010)+*, Sandusky (04100011)*, Huron-Vermilion (04100012)*, Black-Rocky (04110001)*, Grand (04110004)+, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)+, Cattaraugus (04120102)+*, Buffalo-Eighteenmile (04120103)+, Lake Erie (04120200)+, Oswegatchie (04150302)+, Indian (04150303)+, Grass (04150304)+, Raquette (04150305)+, St. Regis (04150306)+, English-Salmon (04150307)+, Mettawee River (04150401)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+, Winooski River (04150403)+, Lamoille River (04150405)+, Missiquoi River (04150407)+, Lake Champlain (04150408)+
05 Conewango (05010002)+, French (05010004)+, Mahoning (05030103)+, Upper Ohio-Wheeling (05030106), Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202), Little Kanawha (05030203)+, Hocking (05030204)+, Tuscarawas (05040001)+, Mohican (05040002)+, Walhonding (05040003)+, Muskingum (05040004)+, Licking (05040006)+, Upper Kanawha (05050006), Elk (05050007)+, Lower Kanawha (05050008), Coal (05050009), Upper Scioto (05060001)+*, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Paint (05060003)+, Lower Guyandotte (05070102)+, Tug (05070201), Upper Levisa (05070202), Lower Levisa (05070203), Big Sandy (05070204), Upper Great Miami (05080001)*, Lower Great Miami (05080002)+, Whitewater (05080003)+, Raccoon-Symmes (05090101)+, Twelvepole (05090102)+, Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+, Little Sandy (05090104), Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201), Little Miami (05090202)*, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)*, Licking (05100101), North Fork Kentucky (05100201), Middle Fork Kentucky (05100202), South Fork Kentucky (05100203), Upper Kentucky (05100204), Lower Kentucky (05100205), Upper Green (05110001)+, Middle Green (05110003)+, Rough (05110004)*, Upper Wabash (05120101)+*, Salamonie (05120102)+*, Eel (05120104)+, Middle Wabash-Deer (05120105)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Wildcat (05120107)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Vermilion (05120109)+, Sugar (05120110)+, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+, Embarras (05120112)+, Lower Wabash (05120113)+, Little Wabash (05120114)+, Upper White (05120201)+*, Lower White (05120202)+, Eel (05120203)+, Driftwood (05120204)+, Flatrock-Haw (05120205)+, Upper East Fork White (05120206)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+*, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)*, Rolling Fork (05140103)
07 Copperas-Duck (07080101)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A 3-inch fish (sand darter).
General Description: The most elongate species of the subgenus Ammocrypta. Adults usually 46-71 mm in total length (TL) (longest 81 mm), young of year 28-53 mm TL in October. Facey (1997) discerned three age classes: Age 0, 18.8-41.2 mm; Age 2, 34.2-52.6 mm; Age 3, 45.5-52.8 mm. Body depth contained 7.0-11.2 times in standard length. Williams (1975) provided ranges based on analyzed specimens. In live specimens, the body is translucent with a yellowish or greenish cast, especially dorsally, with a narrow metallic gold to olive-gold band passing subcutaneously along the line of lateral blotches. The dorsum is marked with 11-19 small olive spots along the dorsal ridge which beomce rows of paired spots along base of dorsal fins, with one row on each side of fin. Along lateral line is a series of 8-15 oblong, dusky-olive spots that may form a faint band posteriorly (Trautman 1981). In alcohol, the dorsum is variously marked by 11-19 dusky to brown blotches, extremely variable in size, shape and position. Where these extend across the dorsum, they are broken along the midline forming rows of paired spots, particularly along the base of the dorsal fins. Laterally, the body is marked with 9-15 dusky to dark brown longitudinal blotches of variable size, shape and horizontal position becoming larger and darker posteriorly. Lateral line is complete with 65-84 scales. Belly, cheek and opercle are unscaled; breast is unscaled except for embedded scales near and on prepectoral area (Williams 1975). Organs, vertebrae, and lateral blotches on opposite side of body are visible through flesh in live fish (Spreitzer 1979). Sexual dimorphism is subtle. Pelvic fins have melanophores concentrated on the basal half to two-thirds in males, while females have no pigmentation or occasional melanophores along margins of pelvic rays (Williams 1975). During spawning season, genital papillae of males (which are smaller than females) remain a distance from anal-fin spine while papillae of female encroach on or touch anal-fin spine base (Spreitzer 1979). Type specimens were documented by Jordan and Evermann (1896), Linder (1959), and Collette & Knapp (1966). Protolarvae are 5.5 mm TL at hatching, and possess a stomodeum, 23-26 (x = 24.4) preanal myomeres, and 18-19 (x = 18.4) postanal myomeres (Simon et al. 1992).
Diagnostic Characteristics: The most elongate of the subgenus Ammocrypta, and the only Etheostoma with both the long axis of the lateral blotches horizontal and 4-7 rows of scales below the lateral line at the caudal peduncle (Williams 1975). Ammocrypta meridiana (southern sand darter) achieves a maximum size of 58 mm and is pale yellow-orange. Ammocrypta vivax (scaly sand darter) is primarily a coastal plain species of the Mississippi embayment (Williams 1975).
Reproduction Comments: Spawns in June and July in Ohio basin, 2-3 weeks later in Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River populations (Kuehne and Barbour 1983. In Vermont, spawning apparently began in mid-June in 1995 (Facey 1995). Spreitzer (1979) reported the spawning period as extending from May through mid-August, based on female fecundity, with most spawning occurring in June and July; eggs hatch in less than 7 days; fry begin to feed about 9 days after hatching

The only description of spawning behavior is based on observations of captive specimens in aquaria that were captured from the Tippecanoe River (Johnson 1989). During sampling in July, 23 males and 4 females were captured, suggesting males had congregated in that area. In captivity, 11 A. pellucida were monitored in a 37.8 liter tank with water 30 cm in depth and 5 cm substrate (gravel to fine sand). Four males pursued one female around the tank, often resting their pelvic fins and chins on her back. The female was mounted by a male in a position directly on top of her. Egg deposition occurred when the pair vibrated, with their tails and caudal peduncles buried in the substrate. In 3 of 12 episodes, a second "sneaker" male joined the pair, positioned himself on one side of the female, and vibrated with the pair. Eggs were buried singly in the substrate. Spawning occurred both day and night at water temperatures of 20.5-23 C. Small tubercles on the ventral surface of the first few outer pelvic rays of the male apparently hold or stimulate the female during spawning. Eggs are translucent, sperical, and slightly adhesive. Spreitzer (1979) found that the diameter of mature ova varied greatly (mean 1 mm, range 0.74-1.2 mm), larger females produced more ova than smaller specimens, and females having more ova produced more mature ova, the mature ova compliments per female being quite low (mean 71; range 30-170) which is similar to A. BEANI (22-71) and A. BIFASCIA (12-69) (Williams 1975). It appeared that yearling females that had not attained a standard length of 36 mm by May did not spawn in that year. In Salt Creek, the lowest silt levels in the habitat occurred in June and July, coinciding with peak spawning activity and raising the possibility of a relationship, perhaps to ensure greater egg survivability. Maximum longevity apparently is only a few years (Facey 1995).

Ecology Comments: Annulus formation is weak, but discernable. Maximum age in the Salt Creek study was 2+ years. Mean standard lengths for 135 specimens analyzed were: age 0, 33.4 mm (range 18.8-41.2); age I, 44.4 mm (range 34.2-52.6); age II, 48.8 mm (range 45.5-52.8). There was little size difference between males and females, and the sex ratio was 1:1 (Spreitzer 1979).

Information on population structure, density and age composition information is lacking. Studies of other darter species indicate near constant mortality rate throughout life (beyond the larval stage) or a relatively high death rate at advanced age, as opposed to high juvenile and low adult mortality found in most fish species (Page 1983). At one French Creek Station, 34 specimens were captured in a 510 square meter area in good habitat in 24 minutes with electro-fishing gear (Criswell 1992). Bouton (1986) reported capturing 45 individuals in a 4-mile section of the Poultney River, 95% of which had clean sand bottom, and considered this a healthy population.

Parasites identified from Lake Erie specimens included the nematodes: Camallanus oxycephalus and Agamonema sp.; and trematodes: Neascus sp., Tetracotyle sp., and Lebouria cooperi (Bangham and Hunter 1939). Those from Salt Creek and incidence of infestation were: C. oxycepahlus 9.2%; the trematode Uvulifera ambloplitis 79.8%; the copepod Lernaea cyprinaceae 5%; and the cestode Protocephalus ambloplitis 80%. The infected Salt Creek specimens showed no evidence of decline in physical condition (Spreitzer 1979).

Burying Behavior: A. pellucida was reported to bury itself in sand substrate by several authors. Clay (1975) and Trautman (1981) reported a tail-first burying sequence, which no longer appears credible. Jordan and Copeland (1877) first reported a head-first burying sequence in aquarium fish. Spreitzer (1979) and Daniels (1989) reported detailed accounts of head-first burying behavior. The darter swims slightly above stream bottom for 0.3-2 mm, then plunges into the substrate at an angle of 20-60 degrees, then travels through the sand in a shallow V-shaped path. Elapsed time from first contact with sand to final resting position was 0.12-0.75 sec. Spreitzer (1979) reported two types of burying behavior. The more common "casual" behavior resulted in the snout and eyes being exposed at termination of the sequence, while the less common "avoidance" behavior left the fish completely buried. Daniels (1989) tested three hypotheses (predator avoidance, prey ambush, and maintaining position) to explain burying behavior and concluded that predator avoidance or presence of prey in the water column (larval food items) did stimulate burying. Darters may actively uncover within the sand (Daniels, personal communication). The ability of the darter to maintain itself in an apparently homogeneous microhabitat (by burying) during high or low flows was important, though low oxygen levels in substrate may limit such behavior. Some fish remained buried for at least 18 hours. The temperature at the bottom of the water column was found to be approximately 10 C higher than at 2 cm into the substrate, illustrating the potential advantage for thermoregulation during low flows and hot weather. Simon (1991) concluded that burying behavior appears to be a resting response used during occupation of homogeneous sand habitats, and that incidences of complete burial and, burial with head and snout exposed, corresponded to long and short resting periods, respectively. Individuals that remained in the sediment longer than one hour were usually completely buried.

Associates: In Salt Creek (Spreitzer 1979), fish species considered associated with A. pellucida were Etheostoma nigrum in the transition zone between silt and sand, (where both were observed feeding non-aggressively), Notropis stramineus and Ericymba buccata (which may compete with the sand darter for food), and Noturus miurus (where cover exists). In French Creek, western Pennsylvania, E. blennoides, E. zonale, Percina maculata, Hypentilium nigricans, Ichthyomyzon sp. (ammocetes), Notropis stramineus, N. volucellus, and Noturus miurus were taken with A. pellucida (Criswell 1992). In the Mettawee in New York, Daniels found only E. olmstedi abundance positively correlated in darter sampling stations (p=0.25). He attributed co-occurrence of other species to their wide-spread distribution rather than because they shared habitat (Daniels 1993.

Predation: Definitive information on predation is lacking. Because A. pellucida is apparently somewhat active during periods of darkness (Daniels 1989, Johnston 1989) the possibility of losses to predatory fishes exists. Species that overlap with the sand darter in habitat and range (Trautman 1981) and should be considered potential predators are Lepisosteus osseus, Micropterus dolomieu, M. punctulatus, Stizostedion vitreum, and S. canadense. Daniels (1989) concluded that even if a darter buried, a wading bird could pick the fish from the substrate if it observed the point of entry. Field observations in French Creek (Criswell 1992) during low flows and bright sunlight, when the darters were quite visible, indicated they were reluctant to bury immediately when pursued by investigators, preferring to dart at least 2 m before plunging. One specimen was chased 10 m before burying. This behavior would tend to make the fish susceptible to avian predators such as the belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), which nest along streams.

Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Not known to be migratory.
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Generally this sand darter prefers habitats within small creeks to large rivers and lake shores, with slow to medium current, and lakes and lake-like expansions of rivers with fine sandy substrate (0.1-1.0 mm) (Daniels 1993, Trautman 1981, Scott and Crossman 1973, Williams 1975, Adams and Burr 2004, Grandmaison et al. 2004, and many others).

Sandy areas are generally depauperate of flora and other fauna so that both competitors and predators may be lacking. Sand particles (0.1-1.0 mm) are deposited at low velocities relative silt and clay (which tend to move as aggregates) or larger stones and cobbles. Unconsolidated silts and clays erode at lower velocities than sand, but remain in suspension unless stream velocity decreases (Morisawa 1985). Sand runs form in depositional areas where current slows on the inside of a bend in the river. Such runs can be stable, though sand particles are eroded and deposited with storm events (Gordon et al. 1992). Burrows into sand bottom. Eggs are buried in the substrate. Simon et al. (1992) reported collecting eggs and larvae from the Tippecanoe River (Indiana) from sand and gravel in slight to moderate current at temperatures of 20-23 C.

Ohio: most abundant in larger, sandy areas of sections of moderate or large-sized streams where silting-over of sand was at a minimum and current was not strong enough to wash away the sand (Trautman 1981). Pennsylvania: taken over sandy riffles (Lachner, Westlake and Handwerk 1950). Kentucky: captured over clean sand along the margins of a Dianthera riffle (Branson and Batch 1974). Quebec: Vladykov (1942) reported unusual captures over limestone with a thin layer of mud, and clay mixed with some sand. Sand at one French Creek site was approximately 2-4 dm deep (Criswell 1992), and Barnes (1979) reported substrate depths of 100-500 cm at a sand darter site on Federal Creek. Water depths ranged from 2 dm (Criswell 1992) to 14.6 m (Scott and Crossman 1973). Minimum stream widths reported were 7-9 m (Barnes and Carline 1977). In the Tippecanoe River, greatest abundance occurred where water was approximately 30 cm deep over a substrate of 80% sand and 20% gravel (Johnston 1989). In general, medium and coarse sand co-dominated the substrate in Salt Creek, with fine sand being third most prevalent by weight, and with some silt also present. The dynamic nature of this habitat was documented by percent composition of various particle sizes changing monthly, and by observations of changes in size, shape, topography, and degree of silt cover at study sites (Spreitzer 1979). Daniels studied habitat within the Mettawee River in (New York) and within an artificial stream environment. Greatest abundance (75%) of observed darters was less than 20 m downstream of channel bend (depositional side of stream), 90% on sand 5 m from shore and in less than 0.5 m depth. Vegetation and debris were greater than 5 m; i.e. Measured water velocity was 10-20 cm/sec water column velocity. Artificial stream data corroborated field data. Sand substrate at the riffle site reported by Lachner et al. (1950) is no longer present in sufficient quantity to support A. pellucidum, although the site is otherwise intact and still supports all other riffle inhabitants reported (Criswell 1992). Maximum water temperature reported for a capture site was 26 C (Johnston 1989). Vladykov (1942) reported pH readings of 8.2 and 8.6 in Quebec. Specific data on other water parameters quality are lacking.

In Lake Erie, A. pellucida occupied clean sandy shores, shallow bays, and the island region of the lake (Van Meter and Trautman 1970). Langlois (1954) reported it from sandy shoals at the narrows of Middle Bass Island, and noted that some were captured by local boys at a bathing beach on South Bass Island in 1952. It occupies unconsolidated, sandy bottom along the shoreline of Presque Isle in waters 1-5 feet in depth. Although there is little specific data on water quality requirements, a report by Beeton (1961) concluded the change in bottom fauna of Lake Erie, which corresponds to reported declines in A. pellucida (Trautman 1981, Van Meter and Trautman 1970), indicated an increase in the organic component of the sediments. In the western basin island area the bacteria load increased threefold between 1913 and 1946, average total nitrogen increased from 0.265 ppm in 1942 to 0.83 ppm in 1958, free ammonia from 0.013 in 1930 to 0.092 in 1958, and total phosphorous increased from 14.4 ppb in 1942 to 36 ppb in 1959.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly midge larvae; also eats other dipteran larvae, and mayfly naiads, oligochaetes, and cladocerans (Page 1983, Facey 1995). Apparently a visual feeder.

Spreitzer (1979) reported that the diet consisted primarily of chironomid larva and included oligochaete annelids and cladocerans. Chironomids comprised nearly the total stomach content in specimens examined from Ohio by Turner (1921). Four Illinois specimens examined by Forbes (1880) contained 81% chironomid larva, 12% other dipteran larva, and 7% ephemeropteran larva. Specimens taken from the Embarras River (Illinois) contained midge (Chironomidae) and black fly (Diptera: Simulidae) larva (Smith 1979). In Salt Creek, Ohio, cladocerans were not present in sand substrate and were apparently captured by individuals that migrated to another habitat to feed in November.

Prey is drawn into the mouth by negative pressure after a short lunge from a distance of 5-10 mm. The fish then withdraws to pre-strike position, the entire sequence averaging 0.18 seconds. Prey and substrate is then "sorted" by a process that resembles swallowing, and sand particles are forcibly ejected through the mouth.

Feeding intensity increased between February and June, peaked in June and July, declined between September and November, and food items were absent from specimens taken in December. Females began feeding in February, males in March. No fish eggs were found in sand darter stomachs.

Evidence indicated A. pellucida is a sight feeder, and reduction in light intensity interrupts feeding activity under laboratory conditions (Spreitzer 1979).

Phenology Comments: In Ohio, feeding activity peaked in early summer and was minimal in early winter.
Length: 5 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Habitat requirements include high water quality and sand substrate for all parts of the life cycle. Changes in flow regimes, disturbances to upland areas, especially levees or other areas containing fine materials, or disturbance to wetland areas that serve as sediment traps can alter the type and movement of sediments in rivers, thereby affecting the creation and maintenance of habitat. There is a need to determine, within individual rivers and habitats, the mechanisms affecting sediment size and transport, water quality, and population size. From a range-wide perspective, there is a need to determine historical factors affecting habitat availability and the feasibility of reintroduction where conditions are suitable. Protection requires acquisition or easements of riparian and buffer zones and reduction of siltation and chemical and sewage discharges, where necessary as well as steps to protect and maintain healthy, defensible populations, including habitat restoration and management.
Species Impacts: Not known to impact negatively other species of management concern.
Restoration Potential: Potential exists to restore populations in some cases. In Pennsylvania, water quality has improved somewhat in the Youghiogheny River, where A. pellucida was reported by Cope (1869) and then extirpated by acid-mine pollution (Cooper 1983). Restoration could be accomplished in Ohio where acid mine drainage is the limiting factor (Barnes and Carline 1977) by abatement programs. Sedimentation and sewage discharge reductions could, in time, return historic stations to habitable conditions. Sufficient populations still exist to provide stocks for reintroductions or captive-breeding programs. Ammocrypta pellucida has been laboratory cultured (Simon et al. 1992).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Site conservation planning requires a watershed approach. Generally, preserving a specific site or station will have little positive effect on the long-term well-being of populations. Site conservation planning requires an understanding of (1) historic and current flows within the river as well as sediment movement, (2) the formation and movement of sand bar formations, (3) sources of sand and silt loads in the river, (3) surficial and subsurface flows that maintain water levels, (4) the relationship of adjacent lakes and wetlands to water quality and quantity in rivers. Necessary elements for preservation include: education of the public, land users, municipalities, and governmental agencies; regulation of land use and discharge practices to ensure suitable water quality, flow, and substrate; acquisitions or easements for riparian areas and buffers where important or critical habitat exists. Areas for protection through acquisition or restoration by means of activities such as stream bank restoration, wetlands restoration or other activities should be prioritized based on the following criteria: (1) Is the area or tract adjacent to river areas containing occupied or potential darter habitat? (2) Does the area or tract contain important buffer areas needed to prevent direct or indirect threat to darter populations? (3) To what extent is the area or tract threatened by direct impacts or inappropriate use or management that would cause the loss of riverine or wetland habitat? (4) Is the area or tract critical to maintaining the essential hydrologic processes? (5) Does the area or tract require active management (e.g., riparian restoration, soil erosion control, etc.) to affect sedimentation or other processes?
Management Requirements: Identify (1) the locations of habitat, (2) how habitat and population size change over time, and (3) sources of pollution and siltation. Replant open stream banks and levees. Fence livestock from streams. Identify natural flow regime in rivers with dams and assess possible changes in water and sediment flow regimes from impoundments. Attempt to recreate natural regimes by working with managers of such impoundments. Identify adjacent lakes and wetlands in terms of their relative importance as sources or sinks for sediments. Maintain natural flow regimes and water level fluctuation within wetlands.
Monitoring Requirements: Habitat, populations and subpopulations should be monitored annually at high-quality, stable sites that are readily accessible. In addition, regular inventory for new locations within a given river should be undertaken to document subpopulation movement and habitat change. Trends should be monitored with respect to water quality, flow, substrate composition, silt loading, population size, age and sex composition, and general health. Special efforts must be made to limit or eliminate mortality during monitoring.

Using aerial photographs and field surveys, habitat areas can be identified and mapped along with sources of erosion from roads, farm fields, and construction activities within the river corridor and main tributaries. The landscape context of the watershed can also be mapped and assessed over time to determine how changes in land use and land cover may affect flow and habitat. If the river is impounded, pre- vs. post-impoundment hydrographs should be compared to determine if such alterations may have or could potentially result in alteration of habitat. Trends in potential sources of pollution should also be monitored.

Generally, seining is an effective method to capture sand darters (Spreitzer 1979, Johnston 1989), but small mesh, such as 1/8", is necessary to prevent the loss of juveniles. In Pennsylvania, A-C powered electrofishing gear was found to be most effective in low, clear water, provided the sampling pace was slow to allow buried specimens to dislodge after being affected by the current from the probes (Criswell 1992). An increase in turbidity made it difficult to see and net stunned individuals. Age and growth information can be obtained through scale analysis, and sex-ratio information can be collected in the field based on external morphological characters (Williams 1975, Spreitzer 1979), thereby allowing the release of captured individuals. Methods could be developed to measure changes in population without capturing individuals. Mark-recapture techniques could result in some mortality for a small fish. Daniels used color washers to mark darter locations and then sampled habitat in those locations. Changes in numbers of observed darters and in measured habitat characteristics (substrate size and stream morphology) could be monitored to create both population and habitat indices. If trend information obtained by monitoring is to be useful, it is imperative that factors such as time, water temperature, season, light intensity, visibility and type of gear remain as constant as possible.

Management Research Needs: (1) To what extent do subpopulations as well as the overall population within a given river or water body change over time? (2) To what extent does the number of occupied sites change over time? (2) Can such changes be correlated with changes in flow (annual and storm), sediment transport, and chemical parameters (D.O., pH, metals, organics, etc.)? (3) Can such changes be correlated with changes in the composition and abundance of other organisms, particularly aquatic invertebrates or fish, that may be indicators of physical and chemical changes? (4) What are the minimum water quality thresholds that will support a viable population? (5) What are the substrate characteristics (range of particle size; minimum sand bar size; current velocity) that will support a viable population (e.g., maximum amount of silt that can be tolerated, minimum depth and area of sand substrate that can be utilized)? (6) What is the feasibility of captive breeding and culture to produce supplies for reintroductions? (7) How much impact does natural predation have on dwindling populations? (8) What is the total present range of the species (many waterways, especially larger rivers, have not been adequately sampled)? (9) To what extent is movement possible between drainages and between habitat patches within a drainage; (10) What are feasibility of and best methods for reintroduction?

Sand bars, point bars and other physical features along a river provide disjunct habitat areas. The population may consist of subpopulations in the form of an island-mainland or metapopulation structure. Further information is needed on movement and dispersal distances to determine population structure.

The range is extensive, yet, again, populations are disjunct. Information is needed on long-distance dispersal and migration.

Further research is needed on habitat use during high flows (when little field research or monitoring of aquatic systems is accomplished) as well as food sources, prey, predators, locations where eggs are laid, and reproductive behavior.

Biological Research Needs: (1) Determine most appropriate methods of monitoring populations , subpopulations and habitat, (2) classify rivers and habitat with extant or historic EOs using the national aquatic community classification (Lammert et al. 1997); (e) identify other faunal elements of community, and (4) determine habitat characteristics in lakes and large rivers (e.g., St. Lawrence).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Darters

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs and larvae) in appropriate habitat.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Data on dispersal and other movements generally are not available. Though larvae of some species may drift with the current, Turner (2001) found no significant relationship between a larval transport index and gene flow among several different darter species.

Separation distances are arbitrary but reflect the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of aquatic habitat would represent truly independent populations.

Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality.

Occupied locations that are separated by a gap of 10 km or more of any aquatic habitat that is not known to be occupied generally represent different occurrences. However, it is important to evaluate seasonal changes in habitat to ensure that an occupied habitat occurrence for a particular population does not artificially separate spawning areas and nonspawning areas as different occurrences simply because there have been no collections/observations in an intervening area that may exceed the separation distance.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
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: 19Oct2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Losey, J., C. Fichtel, B. Van Dam, J. Soule, and G. Hammerson
Management Information Edition Date: 29Sep1998
Management Information Edition Author: CRISWELL, ROBERT W., AND M. BATCHER
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 19Oct2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Criswell, R. W., M. Batcher, and G. Hammerson

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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References for Watershed Distribution Map
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