VERMILION DARTER

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Etheostoma chermocki

CHARACTERISTICS: The vermilion darter has a poorly developed frenum hidden undr the upper lip flap and broadly connected gill membranes. Breeding males have a light olive to straw-colored body, and the back is crossed by eight dark olive saddles. Brick red spots and olive green blotches occur along the lateral line. The lower sides, venter, and lower caudal peduncle area are dark vermilion, which occasionally extends dorsally to the lateral line. The spiny dorsal fin has a cherry-red ocellus in the first membrane and a broad, brick red submarginal band in the remaining membranes. The soft dorsal fin has a submarginal red band along its entire length. Etheostoma chermocki is distinguished from the Warrior darter, E. bellator, by its stockier body, shorter caudal peduncle, taller dorsal fins, and more extensive vermilion along the venter. See Boschung et al. (1992) for original description and Suttkus and Bailey (1993) for additional diagnostic information.

ADULT SIZE: 1.8 to 2.4 in (45 to 60 mm)

DISTRIBUTION: Etheostoma chermocki is limited in distribution to upper Turkey Creek, a tributary to the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River system in Jefferson County, Alabama. Existing populations appear isolated in the Birmingham-Big Canoe Valley section of the Alabama Valley and Ridge physiographic province.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The vermilion darter occurs in moderate to swift currents in streams of alternating riffles and pools. Riffles contain small limestone rubble and shale cobble. Clean bedrock, occasionally covered with a layer of sand, occurs in pools. Breeding individuals have been captured during April in root mats of waterwillow in larger riffles and shoals. Near springs, we captured individuals in swift runs and chutes adjacent to watercress and pondweed. Sedimentation from urban expansion threatens the preferred habitat of this species.

REMARKS: The type locality of the vermilion darter is Turkey Creek, Jefferson County, Alabama.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The vermilion darter was described by Boschung and Mayden in 1992.

ETYMOLOGY:
Etheostoma means strain mouth, possibly referring to the small mouth.

Chermocki refers to being named in honor of R. L. Chermock, former director of the Environmental Geology Division at the Geological Survey of Alabama.

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