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

McBaine, K.E., E.M. Hallerman, and P.L. Angermeier. 2022. Direct and molecular observation of
movement and reproduction by Candy Darter, Etheostoma osburni, an endangered benthic stream fish
in Virginia, USA. Fishes


Direct and indirect measures of individual movement provide valuable knowledge regarding a species’ resiliency to environmental change. Information on patterns of movement can inform species management and conservation, but is lacking for many imperiled fishes. The Candy Darter, Etheostoma osburni, is an endangered stream fish with a dramatically reduced distribution in Virginia in the eastern United States, now known from only four isolated populations. We used visual implant elastomer tags and microsatellite DNA markers to directly describe movement patterns in two populations. Parentage analysis based on parent-offspring pairs was used to infer movement patterns of young-of-year and age-1 individuals, as well as the reproductive contribution of certain adults. Direct measurements of movement distances were generally similar between methods, but microsatellite markers revealed greater distances moved, commensurate with greater spatial frames sampled. Parent-offspring pairs were found throughout the species’ 18.8-km distribution in Stony Creek, while most parent-offspring pairs were in 2 km of the 4.25-km distribution in Laurel Creek. Sibship reconstruction allowed us to characterize the mating system and number of spawning years for adults. Our results provide the first measures of movement patterns of Candy Darter as well as the spatial distribution of parent-offspring pairs, which may be useful for selecting collection sites in source populations to be used for translocation or reintroductions. Our results highlight the importance of documenting species movement patterns and spatial distributions of related individuals as steps toward understanding population dynamics and informing translocation strategies. We also demonstrate that the reproductive longevity of this species is greater than previously described, which may be the case for other small stream fishes.