Palezone shiner

Notropis albizonatus





Listed Endangered on April 27, 1993 (58 FR 25758 25763).Recovery Plan completed on July 7, 1997.


Note: All descriptions are taken from the Recovery Plan (1997).



The palezone shiner is a member of the Cyprinidae family.The species grows to a maximum of 2 inches.The speciesí food habits are unknown.



There is little information regarding reproduction and development of the palezone shiner.


Observations by Warren and Burr (1990) indicate that males and females mature at about 35-40mm standard length.Field observations suggest a spawning period from late-May through June and perhaps early July.Other aspects of spawning behavior are unknown.



The palezone shiner has been taken from the Paint Rock River (PRR), Jackson County, Alabama; the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River (LSFCR), Wayne and McCreary Counties, Kentucky; Marrowbone Creek, Cumberland County, Kentucky; and Cover Creek, Clinch River drainage, Campbell County, Tennessee (Starnes and Etnier 1980; Warren and Burr 1990; Richard Hannan, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, in litt., 1990).It currently occurs in only two widely disjunct populations in the Paint Rock River in Jackson County, Alabama, and the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River in Wayne and McCreary Counties, Kentucky.



The palezone shiner occurs in large creeks and small rivers in the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems.The species inhabits flowing pools and runs of upland streams that have permanent flow; clean, clear water; and substrates of bedrock, cobble, pebble, and gravel mixed with clean sand (Starnes and Etnier 1980, Branson and Schuster 1982, Burr and Warren 1986, Ramsey 1986).



Three of the four known localities for the palezone shiner (except Marrowbone Creek) and both extant populations (Paint Rock River and the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River) occur in streams on the periphery of the Cumberland Plateau. The distribution of the palezone shiner implies that the two remaining populations are remnants of a once more widespread distribution (Starnes and Etnier 1986). Thus, two alternate, but not mutually exclusive, explanations may be relevant concerning the highly fragmented range of the palezone shiner: (1) the species is relatively ancient and extirpation has occurred prehistorically over much of its range, or (2) the extirpation of populations over much of the range has occurred in historic times as a result of loss or degradation of appropriate habitat from siltation, inadequate in-stream flow, reservoir construction, channelization, and coal-mining runoff (Warren and Burr 1990).


The elimination of the species from the Cove Creek drainage within recent times is exemplary of the effect of reservoir construction and coal-mining pollution on an obligate, stream species (Starnes and Etnier 1980). Unfortunately, lack of extensive preimpoundment surveys in both the Tennessee and Cumberland river systems precludes assessment of the historical distribution of the palezone shiner, but loss of other species as a result of impoundments in these systems is well documented. (Etnier et al. 1979).

The lower portions of most large tributaries in both the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers are embayed, eliminating habitat transitional between that of small streams and large rivers. Reservoirs also effectively eliminate migration by obligate stream fishes from one tributary to another, precluding natural colonization of potentially suitable streams by the palezone shiner (Warren and Burr 1990). The mouth of Little South Fork of the Cumberland River is embayed by Cumberland Reservoir Paint Rock River by Wheeler Reservoir.


Marrowbone Creek empties into the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam. The dam discharge consists of extremely cold, hypolimnetic waters from Cumberland Reservoir which effectively impounds lower reaches of the creek depending on the extent and duration of release schedules. Collecting in the mainstem Cumberland (and lowermost reaches of tributaries) at and well below the dam indicates a depauperate native ichthyofauna (Warren and Cicerello 1983), primarily a function of the cold dam releases and irregular water-level fluctuations.


Other probable historic reasons that may have restricted the distribution of the palezone shiner include: removal of shade-producing riparian vegetation and concomitant increase in maximum stream temperatures; channelization; increased siltation associated with poor agricultural and mining practices; deforestation of watersheds and concomitant decreases in in-stream low flow; and perhaps pesticide runoff (Warren and Burr 1990).



Since about 1980, the lower third of Little South Fork of the Cumberland River (about 15 River Miles) has been periodically subjected to toxic surface mine runoff (especially, elevated heavy metal concentrations) that all but eliminated the mussel fauna from the lower third of the river (Anderson 1989). The impact of the discharge on the palezone shiner within this reach of the river is unknown, but recent (1990) sampling in this reach (Warren and Burr 1990) compared to past efforts (Harker et al. 1979, 1980, Branson and Schuster 1982) indicate the benthic fish community, both in terms of diversity and numbers of individuals, has been severely reduced, a probable result of direct mortality of adults and/or eggs, larvae, and juveniles. Warren and Burr (1990) concurred with Anderson (1989) who concluded that current surface mine regulations are inadequate to protect the mussel fauna of the LSFCR, and add that, if the toxic discharge is not curtailed, much of the aquatic fauna of the LSFCR, including the palezone shiner, is imperiled. Upstream of the area receiving toxic mine discharge in LSFCR, the primary threats to the palezone shiner are brine discharges from oil wells (Harker et al. 1979, 1980) and poor land-use practices associated with increased siltation of the stream (road building, deforestation, destruction of riparian buffer strips) (Warren and Burr 1990).


Within the PRR the continued existence of the species will depend upon the continued high-water quality present from about Princeton, Alabama, upstream. The limited distribution of the species within the PRR definitely appears correlated with increasing agriculture and associated increase in stream siltation in the reaches below Princeton. Ramsey (1986) noted that the Paint Rock River was channelized by the Army Corp of Engineers in 1966, but the impacts on the palezone shiner are unknown because no surveys were conducted prior to channelization.


Because the existing palezone shiner populations inhabit short river reaches, they are vulnerable to extirpation from accidental toxic chemical spills. Because of the palezone's relatively short lifespan, the species is extremely vulnerable to short-term and/or localized habitat alterations. In addition, as the populated stream reaches are isolated from each other and from any potential unoccupied habitat by impoundments, recolonization of any extirpated population would not be possible without human intervention. Absence of natural gene flow between palezone populations leaves the long-term genetic viability of these isolated populations in question.





Anderson, R. M. 1989. The effect of coal surface mining on endangered freshwater mussels (Molluska: Unionidea) in the Cumberland River drainage. M. S. Thesis, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN.

Branson, B. A., and G. A. Schuster. 1982. The fishes of the wild river section of the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River, Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 43(1-2):60-70.

Burr, B. M. 1980. A distributional checklist of the fishes of Kentucky. Brimleyana No. 3:53-84.

Etnier, D. A., W. C. Starnes, and B. H. Bauer. 1979. Whatever happened to the silvery minnow (Hybognathus hayi) in the Tennessee River? Southeastern Fishes Council Proceedings 2(3):1-3.

Harker, D. F., Jr., S. M. Call, M. L. Warren, Jr., K. E. Camburn, and P. Wigley. 1979. Aquatic biota and water quality of the Appalachian Province, eastern Kentucky. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Technical Report, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Harker, D. F., Jr., M. L. Warren, Jr., K. E. Camburn, S. M. Call, G. J. Fallo, and P. Wigley. 1980. Aquatic biota and water quality of the upper Cumberland River basin. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Technical Report, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Ramsey, J. S. 1986. Paleband shiner, Notropis sp. cf. procne, p. 6-7. In: R. H. Mount (ed.), Vertebrate animals in Alabama in need of special attention. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

Starnes, W. C., and D. A. Etnier. 1980. Fishes, p. B1-B134. In: D. C. Eager and R. M. Hatcher (eds.). Tennessee's rare wildlife, Volume I: the vertebrates. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Heritage Program, Nashville, Tennessee.

Starnes, W. C., and D. A. Etnier. 1986. Drainage evolution and fish biogeography of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers drainage realm, p. 325-361. In: C. H. Hocutt and E. O. Wiley (eds.). The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993. Endangered and threatened Wildlife and Plants; determination of the palezone shiner (Notropis sp., cf. procne) to be an endangered species. Federal Register 58(79):25758-25763.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Recovery Plan for Palezone Shiner (Notropis albizonatus). Atlanta, GA. 27pp.

Warren, M. L., and B. M. Burr. 1990. Status of the palezone shiner (Notropis sp., cf. procne), a Federal candidate for listing. Unpub. Report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, North Carolina. 27 pp.

Warren, M. L., Jr. and R. R. Cicerello. 1983. Drainage records and conservation status evaluations for thirteen Kentucky fishes. Brimleyana 9:97-109.