Etheostoma exile
Etheostoma exile
(Iowa Darter)
Native Transplant
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Etheostoma exile (Girard, 1859)

Common name: Iowa Darter

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Page (1983); Smith (1985); Woodling (1985); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: 7.2 cm.

Native Range: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River basins from southern Quebec to northern Alberta, and south to Ohio, Illinois, and Colorado (Page and Burr 1991).

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: The Iowa Darter was introduced into the headwaters of the Colorado River in Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Dolores River, and the Yampa River, Colorado (Tyus et al. 1982; Woodling 1985; Beckman 1952; Walford and Bestgen 2008).  A single immature specimen of Etheostoma in the San Juan River, New Mexico was mapped as this species by Lee et al. (1980 et seq.) and by Tyus et al. (1982) (Sublette et al. 1990).  The Iowa Darter has also been introduced into the Green River, Utah (Walford and Bestgen 2008).

Ecology: Occurs in clear to lightly turbid water in small cool lakes, bogs, ponds, and in slow-moving waters of small brooks to medium rivers. Primarily associated with submerged vegetation (Becker 1983; Propst and Carlson 1986).

Means of Introduction: Unknown. Possibly through bait-bucket transfer (Walford and Bestgen 2008).

Status: Failed in New Mexico. Established in Colorado and Utah.  The introduction into the Yampa River likely occurred in the early 2000s, as extensive sampling of the Little Yampa Canyon and Lily Park in 1999-2001 and routine sampling at Echo Park since the early 1990s failed to detect it (Walford and Bestgen 2008).

Impact of Introduction: Unknown.  However, it might compete for food or prey upon larvae of the endangered Colorado pikeminnow, Pteychocheilus lucius, or razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus (Walford and Bestgen 2008).

Remarks: Sublette et al. (1990) imply the specimen the New Mexico record is based on may not be this species. They report the specimen as Etheostoma sp. and also mention the presence of introduced johnny darters E. nigrum upstream in the Animas drainage reported by Woodling (1985) (see E. nigrum account).

References: (click for full references)

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press, Madison, WI.

Beckman, W.C. 1952. Guide to the fishes of Colorado. Colorado Department of Fish and Game.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Page, L.M. 1983. Handbook of darters. T.F.H., Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to the freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Guide Series, vol. 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Propst, D.L., C.A. Carlson. 1986. The distribution and status of warmwater fishes in the Platte River drainage, Colorado. Southwestern Naturalist 31:149-167.

Smith, C.L. The inland fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

Sublette, J.E., M.D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Tyus, H.M., B.D. Burdick, R.A. Valdez, C.M. Haynes, T.A. Lytle, and C.R. Berry. 1982. Fishes of the upper Colorado basin: distribution, abundance, and status. 12-70 in Miller, W.H., H.M. Tyus, and C.A. Carlson (eds.). Fishes of the upper Colorado River system: present and future. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Albuquerque, NM. Western Division, American Fisheries Society.

Walford, C.D., and K.R. Bestgen. 2008. The nonnative Iowa darter (Etheostoma exile) established in the Yampa River, Colorado, and Green River, Utah. Southwestern Naturalist 53(4):529-533.

Woodling, J. 1985. Colorado's little fish: a guide to the minnows and other lesser known fishes in the state of Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver, CO.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/16/2012

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Etheostoma exile (Girard, 1859): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 5/16/2012, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 1/19/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/19/2018].

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