Discovery of Ammocrypta Clara (Western Sand Darter) in the Upper Ohio River of West Virginia

By Cincotta, Dan A.; Welsh, Stuart A. | The American Midland Naturalist, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Discovery of Ammocrypta Clara (Western Sand Darter) in the Upper Ohio River of West Virginia


Cincotta, Dan A., Welsh, Stuart A., The American Midland Naturalist


ABSTRACT.-

Ammocrypta clara Jordan and Meek (western sand darter) occurs primarily in the western portions of Mississippi River system, but also has been reported from a Lake Michigan drainage and a few eastern Texas Gulf Slope rivers. Additional range records depict a semidisjunct distribution within the Ohio River drainage, including collections from Wabash River in Indiana, the Cumberland, Green, Kentucky and Big Sandy rivers of Kentucky, and the upper Tennessee River in Tennessee and Virginia. This paper documents the occurrence of A. clara from the upper Ohio River drainage within the lower Elk River, West Virginia, based on collections from 1986, 1991, 1995, 2005 and 2006. The Elk River population, consistent with those of other Ohio River drainages, has slightly higher counts for numbers of dorsal-fin rays, scales below lateral line and lateral line scales when compared to data from populations outside of the Ohio River drainage. Modal counts of meristic characters are similar among populations, except for higher modal counts of lateral line scales in the Ohio River population. The discovery of the Elk River population extends the range distribution of A. clara in the Eastern Highlands region, documents wide distributional overlap and additional sympatry with its sister species, A. pellucida (eastern sand darter), and softens support for an east-west Central Highlands vicariance hypothesis for the present distribution of A. clara and A. pellucida.

INTRODUCTION

Ammocrypta clara (western sand darter) occurs predominantly in sandy reaches of medium to large rivers in the Gulf slope waters of eastern Texas, north throughout the Mississippi River to Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the Lake Michigan drainage of Wisconsin (Williams, 1975; Page, 1983). In the Ohio River drainage it has a fragmented distribution with records from the Wabash River in Indiana, the Cumberland, Green, Kentucky and Big Sandy rivers in Kentucky (Williams, 1975; Burr and Warren, 1986; Cicerello and Laudermilk, 1996), and the upper Tennessee River in Tennessee (Starnes et al, 1977) and Virginia (Jenkins and Burkhead, 1994) . Within the Ohio River drainage, A. clara is sympatric with its sister species, Ammocrypta pelludda (eastern sand darter), in only a few river systems (Near et al, 2000). Based on published data, the closest record of A. clara to West Virginia is a single 1938 specimen (confirmed by Carl Hubbs) from Wolf Creek of the Tug Fork, Big Sandy River drainage, Kentucky (Clark, 1941; Burr and Warren, 1986).

Linder (1959) reported the range of the western sand darter as primarily west of the Mississippi River, and cited Gerking (1945) for one record from the lower Ohio River drainage. Williams (1975) examined the morphology of approximately 500 museum specimens of Ammocrpyta clara representing the known species range, including nine specimens from the lower Ohio River drainage (Wabash River, Indiana, and Cumberland and Green rivers, Kentucky) . He noted previous identification errors in recognition of the western sand darter with examples of a mixed lot of A. clara and A. pellucida (USNM 39608; Wabash River at Delphi, Indiana) and an unsubstantiated record of A. clara from the Cumberland drainage of the Ohio River reported by Linder (1959) as A. pelludda.

Following the research of Williams (1975), additional Ohio River drainage populations of Ammocrypta clara were discovered in 1976 and 1979 in the Powell and Clinch rivers, respectively, of the upper Tennessee River (Starnes et al, 1977; Jenkins and Burkhead, 1994). Additionally, Cicerello and Laudermilk (1996) rediscovered A. clara in the Green River and documented the first Kentucky River occurrence during the mid 1990s. The records from the upper Tennessee River system were the first in 85 y of Ammocrypta in this drainage despite numerous past sampling efforts at or near the same collection sites and throughout the drainage. An unverified and missing historic collection of A.

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