Etheostoma boschungi - Wall and Williams, 1974
Slackwater Darter
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Etheostoma boschungi Wall and Williams, 1974 (TSN 168377)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106525
Element Code: AFCQC02080
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Perches and Darters
Image 11979

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Perciformes Percidae Etheostoma
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ 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: Etheostoma boschungi
Taxonomic Comments: See Wall and Williams (1974) for original description. Placed in new subgenus Ozarka by Williams and Robison (1980).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Dec2011
Global Status Last Changed: 23Sep1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Narrow range in Tennessee and Alabama; restrictive habitat requirements; threatened by habitat loss and degradation.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (05Dec1996)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S1), Tennessee (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (09Sep1977)
Comments on USESA: A petition received by the USFWS to remove the Slackwater Darter from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants did not present substantial information indicating that delisting was warranted (Federal Register, 10 August 2005).
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast
IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range includes the middle Tennessee River drainage, from the Flint River, northern Alabama, to the Buffalo River, south-central Tennessee (Page and Burr 2011); headwaters of Buffalo River and upper Shoal Creek in Lawrence County, Tennessee; several tributaries of the south bend of the Tennessee River, including Cypress Creek system in Alabama and Tennessee, Swan and Limestone creeks, and West Fork, Brier Fork and Copeland Branch of the Flint River system in Alabama and Tennessee (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Mettee et al. 1996, Boschung and Mayden 2004, USFWS 2008).

Area of Occupancy: 101-500 1-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Boschung and Mayden (2004) mapped 15 collection sites in Alabama; Etnier and Starnes (1993) mapped 5 collection sites in Tennessee. These represent several (more than 5) distinct occurrences (subpopulations). Etnier and Starnes (1993) stated that "only about 10 populations are known." USFWS (2008) reported that this species "is currently known or has been known" from six tributary streams; this comprise 31 historical sites.

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: As of the 1970s, the largest population was in Cypress Creek watershed, with an estimated population of 2400-3600 (Boschung 1976); other populations comprise only a few hundred individuals. The species is regarded as rare and sporadically distributed (USFWS 2008).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The primary threat is habitat degradation resulting in a decline in water quality; sedimentation is believed to be the main cause for the decline (USFWS 2008). Urbanization, logging, road and bridge construction and maintenance, and cattle grazing have contributed to habitat degradation (USFWS 2008).

Heavy use of groundwater for agriculture and human consumption has caused a lowering of the water table and drying up of seepage areas used for breeding. Other seepage areas have been diked to form ponds, resulting in further loss of spawning habitat. Habitat has been degraded by various pollutants that have entered the groundwater system.

Some populations have been extirpated as a result of drainage of fields, other agricultural practices, and perhaps instream barriers (Etnier and Starnes 1993).

The remaining populations are subject to a number of threatening or potentially threatening factors, including increasing urbanization, ditching to drain areas of shallow groundwater, and degradation of surface and groundwater caused by intrusion of agrochemicals and domestic and industrial waste (Boschung and Mayden 2004). In Cypress Creek (a species' stronghold, at least formerly), proposed flood control dams threaten to inundate habitat and block migrations (Boschung and Mayden 2004). Construction of farm fish ponds probably inundated some historical habitat and potentially threatens some existing habitat (Boschung and Mayden 2004).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Surveys since 2001 indicate that several historical spawning and breeding habitat sites have been destroyed, damaged, or are not being used by slackwater darters; declines have occurred both in the number of occupied sites and in population size (see USFWS 2008). Habitat for the species appears to be declining (USFWS 2008). Threats have not declined and in some cases have increased (USFWS 2008).

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: The currently disjunct populations reflect extirpations within a formerly continuous and more ubiquitous distribution (Boschung and Mayden 2004). Five of 31 historical sites have been lost or degraded to a point that they no longer provide suitable habitat (see USFWS 2008).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Important spawning areas need to be identified.

Protection Needs: Proximate breeding and nonbreeding habitats should be protected.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) Range includes the middle Tennessee River drainage, from the Flint River, northern Alabama, to the Buffalo River, south-central Tennessee (Page and Burr 2011); headwaters of Buffalo River and upper Shoal Creek in Lawrence County, Tennessee; several tributaries of the south bend of the Tennessee River, including Cypress Creek system in Alabama and Tennessee, Swan and Limestone creeks, and West Fork, Brier Fork and Copeland Branch of the Flint River system in Alabama and Tennessee (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Mettee et al. 1996, Boschung and Mayden 2004, USFWS 2008).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Lauderdale (01077), Limestone (01083), Madison (01089)
TN Lawrence (47099), Lincoln (47103), Wayne (47181)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
06 Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+, Buffalo (06040004)+
+ 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 two-inch fish.
Reproduction Comments: Spawns late January to March or early April at temperatures at or above 14 C (Lee et al. 1980, Mettee et al. 1996). Males defend egg-laden clumps of plants (Matthews and Moseley 1990). Adults and young apparently move from spawning areas to streams in April (Etnier and Starnes 1993). Sexually mature at age 2, maximum lifespan about 3 years (Etnier and Starnes 1993).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates locally between spawning and adjacent nonspawning habitats (Ono et al. 1983, Mettee et al. 1996).
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: This darter typically inhabits gravel-bottomed pools in sluggish areas of creeks and small rivers that generally are not more than 12 meters wide and 2 meters deep; often it occurs in slow water beneath undercut banks (especially in wide streams) or in accumulations of old leaf litter or detritus (Lee et al. 1980, Etnier and Starnes 1993, Boschung and Mayden 2004, Page and Burr 2011). It is associated with dense filamentous algae in the upper Buffalo River (Etnier and Starnes 1993). It typically avoids riffle and rapids but will traverse swifter streams during migrations to breeding habitat (Lee et al. 1980). Spawning occurs in very shallow seepage water in fields and open woods; individuals are carried into these areas after heavy spring rains. Typical breeding habitat is characterized by the presence of Juncus and Eleocharis in clear, moving seepage or spring water; dry in summer. Eggs are attached to Juncus or Eleocharis. Some populations may not require this type of habitat for breeding (see USFWS 2008).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly larval insects, amphipods, isopods, and limpets (Lee et al. 1980, Etnier and Starnes 1993).
Length: 6 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Relationship to diverse seasonal habitats needs to be further elucidated.
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: 06Dec2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and J. Losey
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Dec2011
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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  • Boschung, H. T., and R. L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 960 pp.

  • Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennessee. xiv + 681 pp.

  • 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.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Mettee, M. F., P. E. O'Neil, and J. M. Pierson. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House, Birmingham, Alabama. 820 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.

  • Ono, R.D., J.D. Williams, and A. Wagner. 1983. Vanishing Fishes of North America. Stone Wall Press, Washington, DC. 257 pp

  • Page, L. M. 1983a. Handbook of Darters. T. F. H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 271 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.

  • 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.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1990. Endangered and threatened species recovery program: report to Congress. 406 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2008. Slackwater darter (Etheostoma boschungi) 5-year review: summary and evaluation. USFWS, Southeast Region, Mississippi Ecological Services Office, Jackson, Mississippi.

  • Wall, B. R., and J. D. Williams. 1974. Etheostoma boschungi, a new percid fish from the Tennessee River drainage in northern Alabama and western Tennessee. Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 18(4):172-182.

  • Williams, J. D., and H. W. Robison. 1980. Ozarka: a new subgenus of Etheostoma. Brimleyana 4:149-156.

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.

  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996c. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia: Export of freshwater fish and mussel records from the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1997. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

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