Status of Slackwater Darter

Slackwater Darter – Status and Population Viability

Etheostoma boschungi, male Dodd site


March 5, 2001: Etheostoma boschungi, the slackwater darter, is known from only a few disjunct populations in tributaries of theTennessee River, TN and AL. Slackwater darters, like other members of the subgenus Ozarka, have separate breeding and non-breeding habitats. Prior to the late winter/early spring spawning season, these darters migrate from stream/river habitats to small tributaries adjacent to breeding sites. During floods, darters move up onto seepage areas in open fields where spawning takes place. Eggs are attached to vegetation (primarily Juncus); juveniles and  adults move from the breeding sites downstream to non-breeding habitat in April/May. In 1995, McGregor and Shepard reported 22 known populations of slackwater darter. Today, due to alteration of both breeding and non-breeding habitat, we suspect that many of these populations no longer exist. Our objectives are to assess population levels at historical localities, and to assess viability of known populations using demographic models. So far, we have only located extant populations of slackwater darters at one of five sites surveyed; the ‘Dodd’ site in Wayne Co., TN. Efforts to collect darters in non-breeding habitat in November and February (5 sites each date) were unsuccessful.  This is Wendi Winter Hartup’s masters thesis project, directed by Carol Johnston.

Dodd site, Wayne Co., TN Breeding site is near barn on right

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