Effect of current and future climate on Endangered Yellowcheek Darter (Etheostoma moorei) growth, survival and refuge use
September 2019 - September 2023
Yellowcheek Darter (Etheostoma moorei) is a fish endemic to the Little Red River watershed in Arkansas (Fig. 1). As a result of threats, geographic isolation and declining abundance, the species was listed as endangered in 2011. Populations have declined, in part, due to intense seasonal stream drying and inundation of lower stream reaches (Fig. 1). It is hypothesized that in headwater streams where periodic drying is common, habitat selection influences Yellowcheek Darter distribution and abundance. Seasonal drought is typical in this region, and as drying occurs, individuals must move from riffles into neighboring pools, move into the hyporheic zone, migrate large distances to a persistent riffle, or perish. It is well-established that other darter species take refuge in pools during riffle drying. However, Yellowcheek Darter has only been collected in riffles, and hence has been identified as an obligate riffle-dweller. We seek to determine the patterns of Yellowcheek Darter refuge selection and how this may effect bioenergetics and population dynamics. Additionally, we propose to examine effects of current and future climate on Yellowcheek Darter population dynamics. This information will help conserve this endangered species. Our approach could also be readily transferable to other aquatic species in the Southeast Region and nationally.