BLACKSIDE DARTER

blacksdie darter
Photo courtesy of Konrad Schmidt

Blackside darter - Common name
Percina maculata - Scientific name
Family -Percidae (walleye, perch and darters)
Status : S2, G5

IDENTIFICATION: The blackside darter reaches up to 4 inches (100 mm) in length. It has an olive colored back and a broad black stripe along its side made up of 8 to 9 large overlapping black blotches. It has a black-colored, prominent teardrop and a black spot on its tail fin, which is rounded without a fork. The blackside darter has two dorsal fins . The first dorsal fin has spiny rays, whereas the second has soft rays. Its gill covering is fully scaled. The blackside darter is in the same family as the walleye and yellow perch.

SIMILAR SPECIES FOUND IN SOUTH DAKOTA: The blackside darter can be confused with the logperch, which is another rare and large darter species found in South Dakota. The logperch has narrow vertical bars on the side and has a conical pointed snout that projects past the upper jaw. The blackside darter has dark blotches that form a wide band along its side, and its snout does not project beyond the upper jaw. The blackside darter has a fully scaled gill covering, whereas the logperch has no scales on its head.

HABITS AND HABITAT: The blackside darter is typically found in pools of creeks and small to medium sized rivers with moderate currents and sand to gravel bottoms. Blackside darters are omnivorous, eating a variety of small aquatic animals and plant matter, but focus mostly on small crustaceans. They spawn from May to July over sands and gravels at the edges of slow riffles. During spawning, males will follow a female until she settles over a suitable spawning area where upon they spawn. After spawning they will rest for awhile and then spawn again. Both male and female can spawn several times.

DISTRIBUTION: Distribution Map The blackside darter is widespread in the United States and Canada and is found throughout the Hudson Bay, Great Lakes - St. Lawrence, and Mississippi River Basins. Eastern South Dakota is on the western edge of this species' range. The blackside darter is found in the Minnesota River Basin and in eastern tributaries to the Big Sioux River that are close to the Minnesota state border. Blackside darters have been documented in the Minnesota River Basin in the North Fork of Whetstone Creek in Roberts County; in Whetstone Creek and the north and south forks of the Yellowbank River in Grant County; and in Cobb Creek and Lost Creek in Deuel County. In the Big Sioux River Basin the blackside darter has been found in Pipestone, West Pipestone and Split Rock Creeks in Moody and Minnehaha Counties; in Beaver Creek in Minnehaha County; in Peg Munkey Run in Deuel County; in Union Creek in Union County; and in the Big Sioux River in Lincoln and Union Counties.

CAUSES OF CONCERN AND CONSERVATION MEASURES: The blackside darter is threatened by any activity causing alteration of its habitat. The species is rare in South Dakota because it is only found in tributaries at the eastern edge of the state near the Minnesota state border.