WASHINGTON (CN) – Five southeastern species of freshwater fish will be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Cumberland darter, the rush darter, the yellowcheek darter, the chucky madtom, and the laurel dace are endangered by loss of habitat due to water impoundment and development, according to the agency.
The Cumberland darter occurs in Kentucky and Tennessee, the rush darter in Alabama, the yellowcheek darter in Arkansas, and the chucky madtom and laurel dace in Tennessee.
All five fishes were on the agency’s candidate species list. The Cumberland darter has been a candidate for listing since 1985, the chucky madtom since 1994, the yellowcheek darter since 2001, the rush darter since 2002 and the laurel dace since 2007.
Only 15 specimens of the Chucky madtom have ever been discovered, and the small members of the catfish family have barbs that can puncture the skin of predators.
All three species of darter are less than three inches long and the laurel dace is similarly sized, though a member of the minnow family.
The agency will propose critical habitat for the five species after September 8, 2011 when the listings become effective.