Etheostoma susanae - (Jordan and Swain, 1883)
Cumberland Darter
Other English Common Names: Cumberland Johnny Darter
Synonym(s): Etheostoma nigrum susanae
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Etheostoma nigrum susanae (Jordan and Swain, 1883) (TSN 650199)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102786
Element Code: AFCQC02D40
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Perches and Darters
 
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: Strange, R. M. 1998. Mitochondrial DNA variation in johnny darters (Pisces: Percidae) from eastern Kentucky supports stream capture for the origin of Upper Cumberland River fishes. American Midland Naturalist 140:96-102.
Concept Reference Code: A98STR01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Etheostoma susanae
Taxonomic Comments: MtDNA data support the recognition of Etheostoma susanae and E. nigrum as distinct species (Strange 1998). Page and Burr (2011) included susanae as a subspecies of E. nigrum. USFWS (2011) recognized E. susanae as a species.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 23Jan2012
Global Status Last Changed: 15Dec2004
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Small, reduced range in Cumberland River drainage above Cumberland Falls in eastern Kentucky and adjacent Tennessee; threatened primarily by sedimentation and other water pollution resulting from coal mining, logging, agriculture, and development; better information on current abundance and trend is needed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N2 (15Dec2004)

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 Kentucky (S1), Tennessee (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (09Aug2011)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast
IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Threatened (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This darter occurs in the Cumberland River drainage above Cumberland Falls in eastern Kentucky (Strange 1998) and adjacent Tennessee (USFWS 2011). Recent surveys by O'Bara (1988) and Laudermilk and Cicerello (1998) indicate that the Cumberland darter is restricted to short reaches of 16 small streams in the upper Cumberland system in Whitley and McCreary counties, Kentucky, and only two small streams in Tennessee (one in Scott County and one in Campbell County). The species has apparently been extirpated from Little Wolf Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky, where it was recorded by Jordon and Swain (1883), and Gum Fork, Scott County, Tennessee, where it was recorded by Shoup and Peyton (1940). Also, although O'Bara (1988) recorded the Cumberland darter from two sites in the mainstem of the Cumberland River, recent efforts to recollect the species from these sites have been unsuccessful (Ron Cicerello, Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, Kentucky, personal communication, 1999). Previous records of the species in the Poor Fork portion of the Cumberland River drainage in Letcher and Harlan counties, Kentucky (Starnes and Starnes 1979), have been determined to be the johnny darter (E. nigrum) based a genetics study conducted Strange (1998). Records of the species from Martins Fork, Harlan County, Kentucky (Starnes and Starnes 1979), are also believed to misidentifications; however, efforts to collect individuals from Martins Forks for genetic studies have been unsuccessful, indicating that whichever taxon occurred in this system has apparently been extirpated. [Primary source: USFWS 2001]

Area of Occupancy: 11-20 1-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Area of occupancy, based on a 1 kilometer x 1 kilometer grid, appears to be less than 20 square kilometers.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Currently, the species is known from 15 localities in a total of 13 streams in Kentucky (McCreary and Whitley counties) and Tennessee (Campbell and Scott counties). All 15 extant occurrences are restricted to short stream reaches, with the majority believed to be restricted to less than 1.6 kilometers of stream. These occurrences are thought to form six population clusters (Bunches Creek, Indian Creek, Marsh Creek, Jellico Creek, Clear Fork, and Youngs Creek), which are geographically separated from one another by an average distance of 30.5 stream kilometers. Source: USFWS (2011, which see for various primary sources).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: No population estimates or status trends are available for the Cumberland darter; survey results suggest that the species is uncommon or occurs in low densities across its range (see USFWS 2011).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: USFWS (2011) summarized threats as follows:

Habitat loss and modification represent significant threats to the Cumberland darter. Severe degradation from sedimentation, physical habitat disturbance, and contaminants threatens the habitat and water quality on which the Cumberland darter depends. Sedimentation from coal mining, logging, agriculture, and development sites within the upper Cumberland basin negatively affect the Cumberland darter by reducing growth rates, disease tolerance, and gill function; reducing spawning habitat, reproductive success, and egg, larvae, and juvenile development; modifying migration patterns; reducing food availability through reductions in prey; and reducing foraging efficiency. Contaminants associated with coal mining (metals, other dissolved solids), domestic sewage (bacteria, nutrients), and agriculture (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and animal waste) cause degradation of water quality and habitats through increased acidity and conductivity, instream oxygen deficiencies, excess nutrification, and excessive algal growths. Furthermore, these threats faced by the Cumberland darter from sources of sedimentation and contaminants are imminent, the result of ongoing projects that are expected to continue indefinitely. As a result of the imminence of these threats combined with the vulnerability of the remaining small populations to extirpation from natural and manmade threats, we have determined that the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the Cumberland darter habitat and range represents a significant threat of high magnitude. We have no information indicating that the magnitude or imminence of this threat is likely to be appreciably reduced in the foreseeable future.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Current population trend is unknown but likely relatively stable or declining to some degree. Habitat quality probably is declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Though recorded as abundant by Jordan and Swain (1883), this fish is now considered to be rare and extremely restricted in range.

Based on collection efforts reported through 2007, the species appears to be extirpated from 11 historical collection sites and a total of 9 streams. Source: USFWS (2011, which see for various primary sources).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: MtDNA data indicate that conservation efforts should focus on habitats immediately above Cumberland Falls (Strange 1998).

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) This darter occurs in the Cumberland River drainage above Cumberland Falls in eastern Kentucky (Strange 1998) and adjacent Tennessee (USFWS 2011). Recent surveys by O'Bara (1988) and Laudermilk and Cicerello (1998) indicate that the Cumberland darter is restricted to short reaches of 16 small streams in the upper Cumberland system in Whitley and McCreary counties, Kentucky, and only two small streams in Tennessee (one in Scott County and one in Campbell County). The species has apparently been extirpated from Little Wolf Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky, where it was recorded by Jordon and Swain (1883), and Gum Fork, Scott County, Tennessee, where it was recorded by Shoup and Peyton (1940). Also, although O'Bara (1988) recorded the Cumberland darter from two sites in the mainstem of the Cumberland River, recent efforts to recollect the species from these sites have been unsuccessful (Ron Cicerello, Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, Kentucky, personal communication, 1999). Previous records of the species in the Poor Fork portion of the Cumberland River drainage in Letcher and Harlan counties, Kentucky (Starnes and Starnes 1979), have been determined to be the johnny darter (E. nigrum) based a genetics study conducted Strange (1998). Records of the species from Martins Fork, Harlan County, Kentucky (Starnes and Starnes 1979), are also believed to misidentifications; however, efforts to collect individuals from Martins Forks for genetic studies have been unsuccessful, indicating that whichever taxon occurred in this system has apparently been extirpated. [Primary source: USFWS 2001]

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 KY, TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
KY McCreary (21147), Whitley (21235)
TN Campbell (47013), Scott (47151)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Upper Cumberland (05130101)+
+ 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 reaching about 12.7 centimeters (3 inches) in length.
General Description: This fish has a straw-yellow background body color with brown markings forming six, evenly-spaced, dorsal (back) saddles and a series of X-, M-, or W-shaped markings on its sides. During spawning season, the overall body color of breeding males darkens and the side markings become obscure or appear as a series of blotches (adapted from Etnier and Starnes 1993).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Starnes and Starnes (1979) distinguished the Cumberland johnny darter from the johnny darter (E. nigrum) by the following characteristics: the top of head, opercles (gill coverings), and mid-belly of the Cumberland johnny darter are devoid of scales, and the pre-orbital stripe (a dark stripe extending from the eye to the upper lip) on the Cumberland johnny darter is usually interrupted at the nostrils (nares).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: This fish inhabits shallow water in low velocity shoals and backwater areas of moderate to low gradient stream reaches with stable sand or sandy-gravel substrata. It is not found in areas with cobble or boulder substrata. All specimens that have been collected in recent years have been found in less than 15 centimeters of water (O'Bara 1988, Laudermilk and Cicerello 1998).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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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: 23Jan2012
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Jan2012
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

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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  • Avise, J. C., and J. L. Hambrick, editors. 1996. Conservation Genetics: Case Histories from Nature. Champman and Hall: New York.

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

  • Etnier, David A. and Wayne C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 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.

  • Jordan, D. S., and J. Swain. 1883. List of fishes collected in the Clear Fork of the Cumberland, Whitley County, Kentucky, with descriptions of three new species. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 6:248-251.

  • Laudermilk, E. L., and R. R. Cicerello, Compilers. 1998. Upper Cumberland River Drainage, Kentucky Fish Collection Catalog (1982-1994). Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. 469 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.

  • O'Bara, C. J. 1988. Current distribution, habitat requirements and potential threats of the upper Cumberland River johnny darter Etheostoma nigrum susanae. Unpublished report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, North Carolina. 19 pp.

  • O'Bara, C. J. 1991. Current distribution and status of the upper Cumberland River johnny darter, Etheostoma nigrum susanae. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 66:9-11.

  • 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.

  • Shoup, C. S., and J. H. Peyton. 1940. Collection from the drainage of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 15:106-116.

  • Soule, M. E. 1980. Threshold for survival: maintaining fitness and evolutionary potential. Pages 151-169 in M. E. Soule and B. A. Wilcox, editors. Conservation biology: an evolutionary-ecological perspective. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts.

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

  • Starnes, W. C., and L. B. Starnes. 1979. Taxonomic status of the percid fish, Etheostoma nigrum susanae. Copeia 1979:426-430.

  • Strange, R. M. 1998. Mitochondrial DNA variation in johnny darters (Pisces: Percidae) from eastern Kentucky supports stream capture for the origin of Upper Cumberland River fishes. American Midland Naturalist 140:96-102.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 12 October 2011. Proposed designation of critical habitat for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, chucky madtom, and laurel dace. Federal Register 76(197):63360-63418.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1999. Status review: Cumberland johnny darter (Etheostoma susanae). USFWS, Asheville, North Carolina. 5 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2001. Etheostoma nigrum susanae candidate and listing priority assignment form. USFWS, Asheville, North Carolina.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 9 August 2011. Endangered status for the Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, chucky madtom, and laurel dace. Federal Register 76(153):48722-48741.

  • 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.

  • Waters, T. F. 1995. Sediment in streams: sources, biological effects and control. American Fisheries Society Monograph 7. Bethesda, Maryland. 251 pp.

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