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Topeka Shiner State Management Plan

Topeka Shiners in South Dakota

Small in stature and rare in abundance, the Topeka shiner has found a comfortable home in South Dakota.

The Topeka shiner is native to prairie streams on the Great Plains and can reach three inches in length and live up to three years. It is similar to the commonly found sand shiner, but is identified by a dark stripe in front of its dorsal fin and a distinct wedge-shaped spot at the base of its tail. Males can be identified during spawning season by their colorful orange fins. Food items range from zooplankton to plant material, though small aquatic insects are an important source.

Topeka shiners prefer small, quiet streams with cool temperatures and good quality water. They occupy a variety of water habitats including runs, pools, and backwater areas. Preferred stream types tend to have clean gravel or sand with vegetated banks of grasses and forbs. Groundwater flow into streams is especially important during late summer months to maintain cool, perennial flows. The Topeka shiner is a schooling fish, often associating with red shiners, bigmouth shiners, sand shiners, orange-spotted sunfish, and black bullhead.

This minnow has been listed as a federally endangered species. Outside of South Dakota various human impacts to the landscape have caused drastic declines in the shiner's range and population.

In South Dakota, it is a different story. Even though the state is on the northwestern edge of the Topeka's range, it can be found in tributaries of the James, Vermillion and Big Sioux rivers. In fact, recent studies have documented Topeka shiners in 80% of the tributaries where it had been historically documented, along with many new areas.

Game, Fish and Parks has worked with other entities including federal, state and local interests to develop a Topeka Shiner Management Plan.

The plan allows management at a state level, while supporting national recovery efforts. It identifies habitat enhancement opportunities and landowner interest in partnership programs, and allows South Dakota to be excluded from critical habitat designation.

Final Rule to Designate Critical Habitat for the Topeka Shiner

Photos courtesy of the SD Coop Unit -
South Dakota State University