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River

RIVER DARTER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina shumardi

CHARACTERISITICS: The sides of Percina shumardi have eight to 15 vertically elongate bars that are crowded under the pectoral fins and become more oval toward the tail. Mottling on the back produces a characteristic dusky appearance. The head has a moderately pointed snout with a distinctive bar under the eye. In breeding males the anal fin is enlarged and heavily tuberculate. The dorsal fins are clear with light stippling or banding, while nuptial males have a prominent curved golden band in the posterior part of the spiny dorsal fin. The river darter is the only member of Imostoma that does not have the distinct dorsal saddles characteristic of other species found in Alabama and the Mobile basin, including the snail darter, P. tanasi; amber darter, P. antesella; and saddleback darter, P. vigil.

ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 3.1 in (45 to 80 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: The river darter occurs from central Canada southward to the Gulf coast in the Mississippi basin and in Gulf Coast tributaries from San Antonio Bay in Texas east to the Mobile basin. Most collection records of this riverine species in Alabama are from the main channel and larger tributaries of the Tombigbee and Alabama river drainages, primarily below the Fall Line. Collections are known above the Fall Line in the Black Warrior and Coosa river systems, but this species is notably absent from the upper Tallapoosa River system. Recent records in the Tennessee River drainage are limited to our 1992 collection in the Paint Rock River system.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The habitat of this species is medium to large streams and rivers with a moderate to swift current and substrates of gravel, rubble, or partially exposed bedrock, as commonly encountered at the head or foot of riffles and shoals. In addition to occupying turbid waters typical of large flowing streams, rivers, and impounded rivers, this species apparently persists in tailwaters below some peaking hydroelectric facilities. Spawning occurs from February through April in swift riffles of small rubble or gravel. Thomas (1970) reports longevity of three to four years and a diet consisting of midges, blackflies, mayflies, and snails.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Girard described the river darter in 1859.

ETYMOLOGY:
Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.
Shumardi is in honor of the discoverer of the species, George Shumard, surgeon and naturalist of the U.S. Pacific Railroad Survey.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. 

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.


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