Elassoma boehlkei - Rohde and Arnett, 1987
Carolina Pygmy Sunfish
Other English Common Names: Carolina pygmy sunfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Elassoma boehlkei Rohde and Arndt, 1987 (TSN 168172)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106423
Element Code: AFCQB09050
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Other Bony Fishes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Perciformes Elassomatidae Elassoma
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: Elassoma boehlkei
Taxonomic Comments: Elassoma boehlkei formerly was included in E. evergladei. Starnes (1995) reported that there is insignificant variation among populations of Elassoma boehlkei, but Quattro et al. (2001) identified two evolutionarily significant units (Waccamaw and Santee) based on mtDNA data. Furthermore, Quattro et al. (2001) found an apparent sister-group relationship between Santee River Elassoma boehlkei and Edisto River E. okatie (rather than with Waccamaw River Elassoma boehlkei), suggesting that current species boundaries need revision.

MtDNA data indicate that Elassoma is monophyletic; see Quattro et al. (2001) for information on phylogenetic relationships among the six species in this genus (E. alabamae is widely divergent; Elassoma boehlkei and E. okatie are sister taxa related to the widespread E. evergladei).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 29Nov2011
Global Status Last Changed: 23Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Small range in North Carolina and South Carolina; occurs in at least eight separate streams; no significant threats at the present time, but some roadside populations are vulnerable.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (05Sep1996)

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 North Carolina (S2), South Carolina (S1)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable
American Fisheries Society Status: Threatened (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range includes small areas in the drainages of Waccamaw River and Santee River in North Carolina and South Carolina (Quattro et al. 2001). Distribution is irregular and localized (Sandel and Harris 2007). See dot map in Menhinick (1991) for distribution in North Carolina.

Two population centers exist in the upper Waccamaw River drainage in North Carolina: Juniper Creek (the largest persistent population) in Brunswick and Columbus counties, and one site (a ditch) that drains into Big Creek, tributary to Lake Waccamaw, Columbus County. The range in North Carolina encompasses an area about 15 miles square. Range in the Waccamaw River system in North Carolina is likely to be expanded with further search. A recent survey of Nature Conservancy's Waccamaw River and Black River preserves did not encounter any E. boehlkei (Smith 1996).

In the Waccamaw River drainage in South Carolina, the species occurs in Horry County and in several old ricefield ditches off Jerico Creek in the Samworth Game Management Area, near Georgetown, Georgetown County.

The Santee River population occupies a small pool adjacent to Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina (Rohde and Arndt 1987).

Area of Occupancy: 21-100 1-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy is uncertain but appears to be less than 100 sq km (based on 1 km x 1 km grid cells).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by several distinct occurrences (subpopulations).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown. The species is extremely localized and uncommon (Page and Burr 2011) but not rare; sometimes locally common (Sandel and Harris 2007).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to few (1-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: The precise number of occurrences with good viability has not been determined.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Rohde and Arndt (1987) and Sandel and Harris (2007) reported threats as follows. Local extirpations have been associated with urbanization. Anecdotal evidence suggests that competition with congeners may exclude this species from optimum habitat. Some populations are at considerable risk of over-harvesting by private aquarists. Recent droughts have severely affected the populations in North Carolina. Rohde and Arnst (1987) stated that no known populations are threatened (generally removed from urban areas, streams not likely to be dammed), but their occurrence mostly along roadsides makes them vulnerable to habitat alteration and/or pollution.

Warren et al. (2000) categorized this species as "Vulnerable" (may become endangered or threatened by relatively minor disturbances to its habitat or that deserves careful monitoring of its distribution and abundance).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: South Carolina populations seem stable; populations near Lake Waccamaw (Brunswick and Columbus counties, North Carolina) seem to be in decline (Sandel and Harris 2007).

At times, this species is relatively common in known habitat patches. Populations either use alternate habitats or fluctuate substantially with the seasons (Sandel and Harris 2007).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Expanded surveys of Waccamaw River tributaries, and surveys of Lumber River tributaries, are needed.

Distribution
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Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) The range includes small areas in the drainages of Waccamaw River and Santee River in North Carolina and South Carolina (Quattro et al. 2001). Distribution is irregular and localized (Sandel and Harris 2007). See dot map in Menhinick (1991) for distribution in North Carolina.

Two population centers exist in the upper Waccamaw River drainage in North Carolina: Juniper Creek (the largest persistent population) in Brunswick and Columbus counties, and one site (a ditch) that drains into Big Creek, tributary to Lake Waccamaw, Columbus County. The range in North Carolina encompasses an area about 15 miles square. Range in the Waccamaw River system in North Carolina is likely to be expanded with further search. A recent survey of Nature Conservancy's Waccamaw River and Black River preserves did not encounter any E. boehlkei (Smith 1996).

In the Waccamaw River drainage in South Carolina, the species occurs in Horry County and in several old ricefield ditches off Jerico Creek in the Samworth Game Management Area, near Georgetown, Georgetown County.

The Santee River population occupies a small pool adjacent to Big Pine Tree Creek, near Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina (Rohde and Arndt 1987).

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: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States NC, SC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Brunswick (37019), Columbus (37047)
SC Georgetown (45043), Kershaw (45055), Sumter (45085)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Lower Cape Fear (03030005)+, Lower Pee Dee (03040201), Lynches (03040202), Waccamaw (03040206)+, Carolina Coastal-Sampit (03040207)+, Wateree (03050104)+
+ 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 small fish.
Reproduction Comments: Suspected to have a one-year life cycle (Smith 1996).
Ecology Comments: May exhibit pronounced variations in abundance (Rohde and Arndt 1987).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Pool
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes shallow, quiet water (ponds, pools, streams, and roadside ditches, including tidal freshwater), with a soft detritus-rich substrate and abundant emergent and/or submerged aquatic vegetation; occurrences are in weakly alkaline to strongly acidic waters; often in human-disturbed habitats (Shute et al. 1981, Rohde and Arndt 1987, Rohde 1997, Sandel and Harris 2006. P. W. Shute pers. obs.).
Length: 3 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Emergency caretaking procedures are being developed to prevent extirpation of evolutionarily
significant units (M. Salmon and J.R. Shute, personal communication, cited by Sandel and Harros 2007).

Biological Research Needs: Better information is needed on metapopulation dynamics, geographic distribution, and life history (Sandel and Harris 2007).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Sunfishes (Centrarchids)

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: Separation distance is arbitrary. Although members of this group vary in size and probably in typical movement distances, it is likely that even the smallest centrarchids occasionally disperse as far as do large centrarchids. Hence a single separation distance is used for all members of the family. 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.
Date: 25Jun2001
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Note that some species some species may at time be hard to detect. For example, nowhere is the Carolina pygmy sunfish known to be abundant. In addition, it is essentially an annual species, with adults dying soon after spawning, at an age of 12-15 months. In addition, young are so small that, for a several months, documentation of the species' presence at a particular locality might be almost impossible, at least without preserving specimens. Therefore, negative data at a known locality should be carefully interpreted (P. Shute).
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Nov2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: LeGrand,, H. E., Jr., and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Sep2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

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

References
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  • Jelks, H. L., S. J. Walsh, N. M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D. A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N. E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J. S. Nelson, S. P. Platania, B. A. Porter, C. B. Renaud, J. Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, E. B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.

  • Jones, W. J., and J. M. Quattro. 1999. Phylogenetic affinities of pygmy sunfishes (ELASSOMA) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequesnces. Copeia 1999:470-474.

  • Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Quattro, J. M., W. J. Jones, J. M. Grady, and F. C. Rohde. 2001b. Gene-gene concordance and the phylogenetic relationships among rare and widespread pygmy sunfishes (genus Elassoma). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 18:217-226.

  • Quattro, J. M., W. J. Jones, and F. C. Rohde. 2001a. Evolutionarily significant units of rare pygmy sunfishes (genus Elassoma). Copeia 2001:514-520.

  • 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.

  • Rohde, F. C. 1997. Carolina pygmy sunfish. Pages 27-28 in E. F. Menhinick and A. L. Braswell (editors). Endangered, threatened, and rare fauna of North Carolina. Part IV. A reevaluation of the Freshwater Fishes. Occasional Papers of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Biological Survey 11.

  • Rohde, F. C. and R. G. Arndt. 1987. Two new species of pygmy sunfishes (Elassomatidae, Elassoma) from the Carolinas. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 139:65-85.

  • Sandel, M., and P. M. Harris. 2007. Threatened fishes of the world: Elassoma boehlkei (Rohde and Arndt 1987) (Elassomatidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 78(4):289-290. [published online in 2006]

  • Shute, J. R., P. W. Shute, and D. G. Lindquist. 1981. Fishes of the Waccamaw River drainage. Brimleyana (6):1-24.

  • Smith, B. S. 1996. A population survey of Elassoma boehlkei (Carolina pygmy sunfish) G1 S1 C2 at The Nature Conservanc'y Black River Swamp and Waccamaw River preserves, South Carolina. Final Report.

  • Starnes, W. C. 1995. Taxonomic validation for fish species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Category 2 species list. 28 pp.

  • Warren, M. L., Jr., B. M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H. L. Bart, Jr., R. C. Cashner, D. A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B. R. Kuhajda, R. L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S. T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, distribution, and conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-31.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996a. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

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