Native Fish, Native Streams: Rare Fish Conservation and Reintroduction

rare fish montageProject ID: FCSR27

Project Overview:  Ohio aquatic ecosystems historically supported diverse and abundant stream and river fish communities.  Changes to the landscape, loss of high quality aquatic habitat, and impairments in water quality led to significant alterations in composition and productivity of fish communities.  In particular, populations of many fish species declined to dangerous levels, or were extirpated from the state altogether.  Although recent improvements in habitat and water quality have allowed some native fish species to expand their range, populations of many species remain low and fragmented, and are considered rare, threatened, or endangered.  In cases where appropriate habitat exists, yet a species is not able to expand its range naturally, captive propagation and reintroduction may be the most viable option for population recovery.  In this project, we will propagate rare Ohio fish species [starting with Spotted Darters (Etheostoma maculatum) and Tippecanoe Darters (Etheostoma tippecanoe)] for reintroduction into select streams and rivers.  Research will focus on characterizing optimal habitat at both broad and fine scales, investigating key dietary requirements and trophic linkages, and monitoring post-reintroduced populations in order to determine feasibility and success of reintroductions.