Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Assessing the distribution and habitat needs of the least darter and sympatric species of the Ozark Highlands and Arbuckle Mountain ecoregions

October 2017 - September 2020


Participating Agencies

  • Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Dusty Swedberg conducts snorkel surveys for Least Darter.

Isolated populations may benefit from different conservation and management activities. The Least Darter is a species of conservation concern that has two isolated populations occupying portions of the Arbuckle Mountain and Ozark Highlands ecoregions. Our study objective is to determine what environmental factors are related to Least Darter occupancy, while accounting for detection. Our general approach is to assess different environmental factors at multiple spatial scales to determine the relationships among microhabitats, reaches, and stream segments and occurrence of Least Darter and sympatric species. The major benefits will be identification of likely populations that can be used as the foundation for a targeted monitoring program, and 2) it will help identify stream segments that likely contain spring locations. We will also use fiber optics to map thermal patches at a fine scale, within two stream segments, and show how Least Darter distribute themselves in response to fine-scale habitat features (i.e., temperature, depth, velocity). This project is funded by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.