Nebraskaland April 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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14 Nebraskaland • April 2019 By Melissa Panella, Wildlife Biologist THREATENED AND ENDANGERED: THE TOPEKA SHINER It's easy to get excited about a trophy-sized trout or bass, but there are also many unique small fish to appreciate in Nebraska. A fine example is the Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) which inhabits high-quality, small coolwater and small warmwater prairie streams. The scales of the breeding male are tinted from silver to gold in color, and the head and fins are golden-orange. A dark lateral line extends from the head to tail fin. This silver and gold beauty only grows to about 2 to 3 inches long. Topeka shiners are state and federally listed as endangered. Their numbers have declined because much of their historic habitat has been altered or degraded. In Nebraska, they are only found in clear, calm water in pool-like habitat in Cherry and Madison counties. These pools can be within the stream or in habitats such as overflow pools and oxbows of the river. Topeka shiners can survive in streams that only flow intermittently, provided that the pools can be sustained by natural groundwater seepage. Males occupy small spawning territories and are known to chase other fish out of their area. You may find Topeka shiners in proximity to green and orangespotted sunfish. However, Topeka shiners are restricted in their ability to disperse to new habitat because it is difficult for them to make their way among streams. Protection and enhancement of prairie streams where Topeka shiners live is the best hope for the species. Stream restoration efforts could also be beneficial but only in places where there is permission to reintroduce them to those locations. Clean, clear water is important to Topeka shiners. Prevention of heavy silt and pollutants from contaminating the stream is healthy for the fish and for maintaining water quality that anyone can appreciate. TOPEKA SHINERS. PHOTO BY MICHAEL FORSBERG IN THE FIELD

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