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Darter Conservation

Captive propagation and habitat modeling

The Yazoo Darter is becoming imperiled, but it is easier than other darter species to raise in captivity. Photo by Fredlyfish4, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Increasingly, recovery plans for imperiled fish species include raising them in captivity and releasing them in the wild. Crystal Ruble of Conservation Fisheries, Inc, with SRS researchers Ken Sterling and Melvin Warren published a protocol for captive propagation of the Yazoo Darter (Etheostoma raneyi). The researchers also summarize its early life-history.

Compared to other darter species, the Yazoo Darter is among the easiest to propagate. The protocol can provide a basis for developing captive propagation techniques for more than 17 other snubnose darter species that are closely related and imperiled. The paper was published in the Southeastern Naturalist.

With lead author Joshua Hubbell of the University of Southern Mississippi, Warren and Sterling also contributed to an occupancy modeling study on darters. The researchers studied the habitat of three species of darters in Gulf Coastal Plain headwaters in the southeastern U.S.

The team found no evidence that the presence of one species influenced the occurrence of another. Each species was influenced by distinct habitat variables:

  • Goldstripe Darters (Etheostoma parvipinne) were constrained by streamsize gradient.
  • Yazoo Darters (Etheostoma raneyi) were influenced by groundwater input.
  • Redspot Darters (Etheostoma artesiae) were affected by local habitat heterogeneity, particularly variation in water depth and current velocity.

The paper was published in the journal Freshwater Biology. For more information, email Ken Sterling at or Mel Warren at