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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
608-266-4340

Least Darter (Etheostoma microperca)


Overview

Overview

Least Darter (Etheostoma microperca), a fish listed as Special Concern, prefers clear, warm, quiet waters of overflow ponds, pools, lakes and streams over substrates of gravel, silt, sand, boulders, mud or clay with dense vegetation or filamentous algal beds. Spawning occurs from late April into July.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Least Darter (Etheostoma microperca). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.


Documented locations of Etheostoma microperca in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY
WWAP SGCN

Species guidance


A guidance document is not available at this time. Use the information from the other tabs and contact local biologists, as needed, to develop management and avoidance strategies.

Photos/Video

Photos


Least Darter

Side views of male (top) and female (bottom): Males show enlarged pelvic fins; pelvic, anal, and 1st dorsal fins are of orange-red color; the throat is gray.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Side view of a breeding male: Males show enlarged pelvic fins; pelvic, anal, and 1st dorsal fins are of orange-red color; the throat is gray.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Side view of a breeding male: Males show enlarged pelvic fins; pelvic, anal, and 1st dorsal fins are of orange-red color; the throat is gray.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Flank of a male: The sides are light colored with 6-9 irregular blotches, 32-38 lateral line scales and usually 10 pectoral rays.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up dorsal fin of a male: The 1st dorsal has 5-7 spines, the 2nd dorsal has 9-10 rays, there is a small gap between lobes.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Bottom view of a male: The opercles are narrowly attached, the throat is gray, the pelvic fins are large.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

The sides show 6-9 irregular blotches and 32-38 lateral line scales of which 0-7 are pored.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Johnny darter (top), least darter (bottom); both have a strong similarity in appearance.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up of head: The mouth is terminal, a frenum is present, the cheeks are scaled.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up anal fin: The anal fin has 1-2 spines and 5-6 rays.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Side view of an adult male with a deformed spine.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Side view of an adult female with frayed tail.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Side view of an adult female with frayed tail.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up flank of a male.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up mouth and snout.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up head of a male.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up pectoral fin.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Alternative side view.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up dorsal fin.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up pelvic fin.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Head-on view adult.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Bottom view adult.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up anal fin.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Top view adult.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.

Least Darter

Close-up tail.

Photo by John Lyons, WDNR.


Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Least Darter. Only natural communities for which Least Darter is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Least Darter. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Least Darter occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.


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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Ecological LandscapeCommunity
Central Sand Hills Warmwater streams
Central Sand Plains Warmwater streams
Forest Transition Warmwater streams
North Central Forest Large Lake--shallow, hard+, drainage
North Central Forest Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepage
North Central Forest Warmwater streams
North Central Forest Large Lake--deep, hard, seepage
North Central Forest Large Lake--shallow, hard, seepage
North Central Forest Large Lake--shallow, soft, seepage
Northern Highland Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepage
Northern Highland Warmwater streams
Northern Highland Large Lake--shallow, soft, drainage
Northern Highland Large Lake--deep, hard, seepage
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Warmwater streams
Northwest Sands Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepage
Northwest Sands Warmwater rivers
Northwest Sands Warmwater streams
Northwest Sands Large Lake--deep, hard, seepage
Northwest Sands Large Lake--shallow, hard, seepage
Northwest Sands Large Lake--shallow, soft, seepage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepage
Southeast Glacial Plains Warmwater rivers
Southeast Glacial Plains Warmwater streams
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--deep, hard, drainage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--deep, soft, drainage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--shallow, soft, drainage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--deep, hard, seepage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--shallow, hard, seepage
Southeast Glacial Plains Large Lake--shallow, soft, seepage
Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Warmwater streams
Southwest Savanna Warmwater streams

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, May 04, 2017