Spotted Darter

Etheostoma maculatum

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Cause of Decline: Habitat Loss

Location: North America

Collection: Fishes

FMNH catalogue no. 1838

Typically around 6cm long, the freshwater Spotted darter’s traditional range spanned several Midwest and eastern US states within the Ohio River basin. It is now considered a vulnerable species as its numbers have decreased throughout this range. Presently it is only found in 19 fragmented locations and primarily limited to Ohio.

The fish was first described in 1840 and is characterised by a pointed snout and the small, bright red spots found on males. The Spotted darter is a member of the perch family and typically inhabits medium-sized rivers and streams where there are large rocks and boulders that provide cover for hunting prey. The presence of Spotted darters is widely considered to be an indicator of high quality, clean water, as it is very sensitive to the affects of pollution and siltation.

Although the species’ habitat is gradually declining, in 2011 the US Fish and Wildlife Service decided against listing the spotted darter under the Endangered Species Act, stating, ‘Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information… does not indicate that there are threats of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude that would cause substantial losses of population distribution or viability of Spotted darters.’

Spotted Darter fish Etheostoma maculatum - Extinction

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