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Brief trip report and ID confirmations


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#1 JasonL

JasonL
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  • Kentucky

Posted 29 July 2018 - 08:26 PM

Explored a new watershed yesterday in western KY in search of new species. This was near the headwaters of the upper Clarks River which is a muddy lowland river draining into the lower Tenessee River just before it's confluence with the Ohio River.

There were actually good numbers of darters here. Mostly fantails but also these which I think may be Spottail darters (Etheostoma squamiceps) which are locally abundant in this region.

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Lots of these sunfish. I think they are juvenile greens.

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Finally I found some of these fish. Could they be juvenile Western Creek Chubsuckers?

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Here is a pic of the habitat sampled. This is a very turbid and muddy watershed in general.


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Thoughts appreciated.

#2 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
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  • Ohio

Posted 30 October 2018 - 02:41 PM

The sunfish isn't a green sunfish. It might be a hybrid of them, but not a pure green. As for the minnows, they look to me more like dace than creek chubsuckers.



#3 JasonL

JasonL
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  • Kentucky

Posted 30 October 2018 - 03:20 PM

Turns out the sunfish were Lepomis marginatus (Dollar sunfish) and those are indeed juvenile Erimyzon claviformis (Western creek chubsucker). Dollar sunfish are a listed species in KY and data was shared with KDFWR officials who have been monitoring this area closely for this and other listed species.

#4 JasonL

JasonL
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  • Kentucky

Posted 30 October 2018 - 03:24 PM

Here is an adult Erimyzon claviformis from the same site for reference. They change quite a bit.

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#5 JasonL

JasonL
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  • Kentucky

Posted 30 October 2018 - 03:38 PM

Also the darter pictured is Etheostoma oophylax (Guardian darter). It is part of the squamiceps complex of darters that includes Spottail, Fringe, Lollipop, Guardian and others who are very closely related. In fact the only way to reliably tell them apart in many cases is to either have survey data () or to catch a male in breeding mode in the spring. Then the changes in second dorsal fin during breeding time can be then used to distinguish them in the field. In this particular watershed, these are E. oophylax.

#6 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
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  • Ohio

Posted 30 October 2018 - 04:21 PM

Outstanding! Until you said dollar, I was feeling confused, didn't realize their range extended into Kentucky. The creek chubsuckers are great as well. Good finds for sure.


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#7 JasonL

JasonL
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  • Kentucky

Posted 30 October 2018 - 07:25 PM

Western KY is the upper tip of L. marginatus range. They are pretty rare around here though I've found a few isolated pockets of them. If you look closely at their lateral line, you can see a reddish orange outline developing in this juvenile specimen. That is one clue that they aren't L. megalotis which are much more common in these parts.

#8 JasonL

JasonL
  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 30 October 2018 - 08:01 PM

Here are a couple more listed species from this watershed. I actually caught these in the same pool as the L. marginatus. Western KY is at the very edge of all of their ranges and all are considered threatened in the state due to their rarity. I would suspect there aren't too many places in the U.S. where you will find all 3 of these species cohabitating.

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Umbra limi (Central mudminnow)
Not a big deal to you northern folk, but a big deal down here to find one of these. Western KY is near the southern tip of their range. This specimen was pushing 3.5 inches. I know they get bigger but I'll take it.

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Etheostoma proeliare (Cypress darter). This is a male. Note the black and red on the first dorsal fin which can be useful to distinguish it from other similar species. Similar to the dollar sunfish, western KY is the northern edge of their range as well.

More mudminnow pics:

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