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Cape Fear Shiner Annotated Bibliography


Burridge, C. P., and J. R. Gold.  2003.  Conservation genetic studies of the endangered Cape Fear shiner, Notropis mekistocholas (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).  Conservation Genetics 4:219-225.

ABSTRACT:  Genetic variation at ten microsatellite loci and one anonymous-nuclear locus was assayed for three geographic samples of the critically endangered North American cyprinid Notropis mekistocholas (Cape Fear shiner).  Despite low abundance of this species, there was little suggestion of small population effects; allele diversity and heterozygosity were relatively high, FIS values within samples were non-significant, and genotypes were distributed in frequencies according to Hardy-Weinberg expectations.  Genetic divergence among samples was minimal despite the presence of dams, constructed in the early 1900s, that separate the sample sites.  This suggests that recent gene flow has been sufficient to inhibit genetic divergence or that gene flow has been reduced but there has been insufficient time for genetic divergence to develop.  Tests of heterozygosity excess were non-significant, suggesting that N. mekistocholas in the localities sampled have not undergone recent reductions in effective population size.  Future studies employing larger sample sizes to provide more robust tests of population structure and temporally separated samples to estimate contemporaneous Ne are warranted.

Abstract provided with kind permission from Springer Science and Business Media (www.springeronline.com)


Chittick, B., M. Stoskopf, N. Heil, J. Levine, M. Law.  2001.  Evaluation of sandbar shiner as a surrogate for assessing health risks to the endangered Cape Fear shiner.  Journal of Aquatic Animal Health 13:86-95.  (75KB)

ABSTRACT:  The health status of the endangered Cape Fear shiner Notropis mekistocholas and the suitability of using the sympatric sandbar shiner N. scepticus as an investigative surrogate were evaluated.  Forty Cape Fear shiners from three sites and 50 sandbar shiners from five sites were examined.  Findings on gill biopsies, fin biopsies, and skin scrapings were limited to low levels of parasitism and gill aneurysms.  Eighty-three bacterial isolates representing 13 aerobic species were cultured from the gastrointestinal tracts.  A picornavirus was isolated from one pooled sample of sandbar shiners at one site. Forty-three percent of shiners (12 Cape Fear shiners, 27 sandbar shiners) had granulomas in various tissues of the body, 26% (6 Cape Fear, 17 sandbar) had encysted trematodes, 16% (2 Cape Fear, 12 sandbar) had protozoal aggregates in muscle or connective tissue, and 26% (22 Cape Fear shiners, 1 sandbar shiner) had mild, moderate, or moderately severe hepatic vacuolization.  Other microscopic lesions included mild parasitism and degrees of inflammation in various tissues.  Sandbar shiners appeared to be suitable surrogates for the Cape Fear shiner in bacteriological sampling; however, parasitic, viral, and nonhepatic histological lesions were more common in sandbar shiners.  Findings from this study warrant further investigation of sandbar shiners as a conservative bioindicator species for the presence of potential health risks to Cape Fear shiners.

Abstract provided with kind permission from American Fisheries Society (www.fisheries.org)


Dwyer, F. J., D. K. Hardesty, C. G. Ingersoll, and D. W. Whites.  1999.  Assessing contaminant sensitivity of Cape Fear shiner and spotfin chub: Interim report.  U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, MO.

SUMMARY:  The sensitivity of the endangered spotfin chub (Hybopsis monacha) and Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas) was tested to determine effects and suitable levels of five chemicals potentially found in streams.  The sensitivity of surrogates (rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)) was also tested and compared to the sensitivity of the endangered fish.  The results indicate that the Cape Fear shiner and spotfin chub have similar sensitivities to the rainbow trout.  Although the fathead minnow is of closer relation to the two endangered fish, the fathead minnow was much less sensitive to the chemicals tested and would not make a good surrogate test fish.


Dwyer, F. J., D. K. Hardesty, C. E. Henke, C. G. Ingersoll, D. W. Whites, T. Augspurger, T. J. Canfield, D. R. Mount, and F. L. Mayer.  2005.  Assessing contaminant sensitivity of endangered and threatened aquatic species: III. Effluent toxicity tests.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 48:174-183.

SUMMARY:  Using surrogates to determine the sensitivity limits of listed species to chemicals is a valuable tool to establishing water quality requirements.  Fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) and Water flea (Ceriodaphnia dubia) were used as common test species to compare to the threatened and endangered species shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum); razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus); bonytail chub (Gila elegans), Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas), Colorado pike minnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), spotfin chub (Hybopsis monacha); and Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis).  The results suggest that a combination of both common test species (C. dubia and P. promelas) results would protect endangered species 96% of the time, including the Cape Fear shiner.


Dwyer, F. J., F. L. Mayer, L. C. Sappington, D. R. Buckler, C. M. Bridges, I. E. Greer, D. K. Hardesty, C. E. Henke, C. G. Ingersoll, J. L. Kunz, D. W. Whites, T. Augspurger, D. R. Mount, K. Hattala, and G. Neuderfer.  2005.  Assessing contaminant sensitivity of endangered and threatened aquatic species: I. Acute toxicity of five chemicals.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 48:143-154.

SUMMARY:  Not all species respond the same to certain contaminants.  Determining the effect on an endangered species is not always possible due to the potential detrimental consequence to the population of the species.  Using an indicator or surrogate species to estimate the effect or sensitivity are potential alternatives to testing the endangered species.  This research examined the effects of carbaryl, cooper, 4-nonylphenol, pentachlorophenol, and permethrin.  Common test species (fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas; sheepshead minnow, Cyprinodon variegatus; rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss) and endangered species were used to determine their sensitivity to these chemicals.  The results indicate one species was not the most sensitive to all chemicals; however, out of the common test species, the rainbow trout was the most sensitive.  Of the listed species, the sturgeons were the most sensitive.  The rainbow trout was more sensitive than the listed species 39% of the time.  The Cape Fear shiner's sensitivity fell midrange between sensitivities of all species tested.


Gold, J. R., E. Saillant, C. P. Burridge, A. Blanchard, and J. C. Patton.  2004.  Population structure and effective size in critically endangered Cape Fear shiners Notropis mekistocholas.  Southeastern Naturalist 3(1):89-102.  (78KB)

ABSTRACT:  Allelic variation at hypervariable, nuclear-encoded loci and mitochondrial (mt)DNA was studied among three geographic samples (40 individuals) of the critically endangered Cape Fear shiner, Notropis mekistocholas.  Genetic variation, as measured by allelic richness and gene (microsatellite) or nucleon (mtDNA) diversity, was similar to that in other fish species.  Homogeneity tests of allele and genotype distributions and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) at nuclear-encoded loci revealed significant genetic heterogeneity among localities.  No differences in mtDNA allele (haplotype) frequencies were detected.  The ratio of the number of microsatellite alleles to the range in allele size suggested that significant reductions in effective size have occurred at two of the three localities.  Long-term (inbreeding) effective population size differed among the samples and ranged from ~1,300 to ~3,000.  Collectively, these results indicate that (i) Cape Fear shiners at these localities are not genetically impoverished, (ii) separate populations of Cape Fear shiners may exist in the Cape Fear drainage, (iii) recent reduction in effective size may have occurred in two of the three localities, and (iv) ancestral populations of Cape Fear shiners may have been of sufficient effective size to offset extinction due to genetic factors.

Abstract provided with kind permission from Eagle Hill Foundation (www.eaglehill.us)


Hewitt, A.H., W.G. Cope, T.J. Kwak, T. Augspurger, P.R. Lazaro, and D. Shea.   2006.  Influence of water quality and associated contaminants on survival and growth of the endangered Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas).   Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 25:2288–2298. 

ABSTRACT:  The Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas) is a recently described cyprinid species endemic to the Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina, USA.   Only five populations of the fish remain; thus, it is listed as endangered by the U.S. Government.   Determining habitat requirements of the Cape Fear shiner, including water quality and physical habitat, is critical to the survival and future restoration of the species.   To assess water quality in the best remaining and in the historical habitats, we conducted a 28-d in situ bioassay with captively propagated Cape Fear shiners.   Fish were deployed at 10 sites in three rivers, with three cages per site and 20 fish per cage.   Water and sediment samples were collected and analyzed for selected metals and organic contaminants.   Passive sampling devices also were deployed at each site and analyzed for organic contaminants at test termination.   Fish survival, growth (as measured by an increase in total length), and contaminant accumulation were measured on completion of the bioassay.   Survival of caged fish averaged 76% (range, 53–100%) and varied significantly among sites and rivers.   Caged fish accumulated quantities of cadmium, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other persistent contaminants over the test duration and grew significantly at only four sites.   No apparent relations were observed between exposure to or accumulation of a specific contaminant and reduced growth or survival of fish among all the sites.   However, a generalized hazard assessment showed that certain sites exhibited trends in cumulative contaminant presence with reduced fish survival and growth, thereby enabling the identification of the existing riverine habitat most suitable for reintroduction or population augmentation of this endangered fish.

Abstract provided with kind permission from SETAC and Alliance Communications Group (www.setac.org)


Holliman, F. M., J. B. Reynolds, and T. J. Kwak.  2003.  A predictive risk model for electroshock-induced mortality of the endangered Cape Fear shiner.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 23:905-912.  (58KB)

ABSTRACT:  We evaluated the effects of a single electroshock on injury and mortality of hatchery reared Cape Fear shiners Notropis mekistocholas (N 5 517), an endangered cyprinid.  Groups of 18–22 Cape Fear shiners were exposed to DC, 120-Hz pulsed DC (PDC), or 60-Hz PDC at voltage gradients of 1.1, 1.9, or 2.7 V/cm for 3 s.  Mortality occurred only among fish exposed to 120-Hz PDC (25%) and DC (38%) applied at 2.7 V/cm.  Because no mortality occurred in Cape Fear shiners exposed to 60-Hz PDC, this waveform was selected for further study of electroshock duration (3, 6, 12, 24, or 48 s) and voltage gradient (0.9, 1.6, or 2.3 V/cm). Most fish electroshocked in the experiments were immobilized (ceased swimming motion).  No physical injury was detected by necropsy or radiography in any fish.  Electroshock-induced mortality of Cape Fear shiners showed a strong multivariable relationship to voltage gradient, electroshock duration, and fish length.  Fish subjected to 60-Hz PDC at 0.9 or 1.6 V/cm for 6 s experienced low mortality (<10%).  Our results demonstrate that Cape Fear shiners can be immobilized by 60-Hz PDC electroshock without injury or significant risk of mortality.  We propose that electrofishing may be safely used to sample similar small cyprinids, imperiled or otherwise, when electrofishers select an appropriate waveform (DC pulsed at 60-Hz or less) and use it judiciously (minimal exposure at, or below, the immobilization threshold).

Abstract provided with kind permission from American Fisheries Society (www.fisheries.org)


Howard, A. K.  2003.  Influence of instream physical habitat and water quality on the survival and occurrence of the endangered Cape Fear shiner.  M.S. Thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. 133pp.  (953KB)

ABSTRACT:  The Cape Fear shiner Notropis mekistocholas is a recently described cyprinid fish endemic to the Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina.  Only five declining populations of the fish remain, and therefore, it has been listed as endangered by the U.S. Government.  Determining habitat requirements of the Cape Fear shiner, including physical habitat and water quality, is critical to the species’ survival and future restoration.  This study integrated the sciences of toxicology and conservation biology, and simultaneously assessed ecosystem level influences of habitat (water and physical environments) on survival, growth, occurrence, and distribution of the Cape Fear shiner.  I conducted an instream microhabitat suitability analysis among five sites on the Rocky and Deep rivers to (1) quantify Cape Fear shiner microhabitat use, availability, and suitability in extant habitats, (2) determine if physical habitat alterations are a likely cause of extirpation of the Cape Fear shiner at historical locations and if instream habitat is a limiting factor to occurrence and survival of the species in extant habitats and at potential reintroduction sites, and (3) estimate population density at selected extant sites.  I used an in situ 28-day bioassay with captively propagated Cape Fear shiners to (1) determine if water quality is a limiting factor to the occurrence, growth, and survival of the Cape Fear shiner, (2) document habitat suitability by assessing inorganic and organic contaminants through chemical analyses and review of existing data, and (3) assess the protectiveness of water quality standards for primary pollutants based on comparisons of laboratory, field toxicity, and water chemistry data.

Cape Fear shiners most frequently occupied riffles and velocity breaks (i.e., areas of swift water adjacent to slow water), moderate depths, and gravel substrates.  They used habitat non-randomly with respect to available habitat, and habitat use was similar between post-spawning and spawning seasons.  However, Cape Fear shiners shifted to shallower depths during the spawning season, suggesting that adequate depth distribution may be an important element of Cape Fear shiner habitat.  Comparisons of suitable microhabitat among river reaches where the Cape Fear shiner is extant, rare, or extirpated suggest that suitable substrate (gravel) may be lacking where the fish is rare, and that suitable microhabitat combinations, especially for water velocity, are rare at all sites.  Cape Fear shiner density was too low to be estimated in upstream reaches of the Deep River where gravel substrate is limited.  Population density ranged from 795 fish/ha to 1,393 fish/ha at three sites surveyed.  Potential reintroduction sites had shallower mean depths than those at extant sites, and the extirpated site on the Rocky River contained the most suitable physical habitat, but lacked adequate water quality.  A site on the Deep River where the species persists, but is rare, is a candidate reach for habitat restoration, but would require substrate alteration to improve conditions for the Cape Fear shiner.

After conclusion of the 28-day in situ test, I measured fish survival, growth (an increase in total length), and contaminant accumulation.  Survival of caged fish averaged 76% and ranged from 53% to 100%. Sites with the greatest mean survival were on the Deep River (87%), followed by those on the Rocky River (74%), and were lowest on the Haw River (66%).  Fish survival was significantly lower at five sites, two in the Haw River, two in the Rocky River, and one in the Deep River. Caged fish grew significantly at four of the 10 sites, and all fish accumulated quantities of Cd, Hg, PCBs, DDTs, and other contaminants over the test duration.  Results from the in situ exposures indicate that a reintroduction site on the Rocky River does not have adequate water quality to support reintroduction, yet results from the instream habitat assessment indicate that physical habitat is similar to extant Cape Fear shiner locations.

Finally, the survival and recovery of the Cape Fear shiner is dependent upon the successful protection of remaining suitable physical habitat and water quality that will require broad-scale examination and approaches considering physical instream habitat, water quality and contaminants, biotic interactions with other organisms, as well as human uses and alterations of the river, riparian zone, and watershed.

Abstract provided with kind permission from Amanda Howard Hewitt.


Pottern, G. B., and M. T. Huish.  1985.  Status survey of the Cape Fear shiner Notropis mekistocholas.  Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 44 pp.

SUMMARY:  This report documents the results of an extensive survey for the Cape Fear shiner in the Cape Fear River Basin.  A detailed search of the Haw, Deep, and Rocky Rivers was conducted; three partially isolated populations of Cape Fear shiner were found.  Qualitative evaluations of habitat where conducted, and the effects of dams, impoundments, and future development are discussed.


Pottern, G. B., and M. T. Huish.  1986.  Supplement to the status survey of the Cape Fear shiner Notropis mekistocholas.  Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 11 pp.

SUMMARY:  This supplement reports the results of a follow-up survey to the 1985 status survey by Pottern and Huish.  A new population of Cape Fear shiner was found in the Deep River, upstream of the known population near Highfalls.


Pottern, G. B., and M. T. Huish.  1987.  Second supplement to the status survey of the Cape Fear shiner Notropis mekistocholas.  Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 7 pp.

SUMMARY:  This second supplement reports results from additional surveys and collections of the Cape fear shiner from sites visited in earlier reports by Pottern and Huish.  Cape Fear shiners were found at a site where they were believed to have been extirpated.


Saillant E., J. C. Patton, and J. R. Gold.  2005.  Genetic variation, kinship, and effective population size in a captive population of the endangered Cape Fear shiner, Notropis mekistocholas.  Copeia 1:20–28.

SUMMARY:  The purpose of this study was to examine genetic variation, relatedness, and effective population sizes of second generation captive population shiners as compared to the wild population.  The effective population size of the captive population was 1/10 of the wild population. Results from the captive population suggest polygynous and possibly polyandrous mating.  The captive population showed lower richness and gene diversity than the wild populations, although, allelic richness was still at sufficient levels as compared to other endangered fish species.


Saillant, E., J. C. Patton, K. E. Ross, J. R. Gold.  2004.  Conservation genetics and demographic history of the endangered Cape Fear shiner (Notropis mekistocholas).  Molecular Ecology 13, 2947-2958.

SUMMARY:  The researchers examined evidence of small population effects due to low fish abundance and population trends to determine if population sizes have always been small.  Gene flow between populations is assessed based on heterogeneity of allele distributions.  Genetic diversity and small population effects do not seem to be of concern in the Cape Fear shiner.  However, signs of reduced gene flow were evident, suggesting population separation from dams may be affecting the populations.  Significant separation reduces the amount of gene flow between populations thus making them vulnerable to loss of heterozygosity.


Snelson, F. F., Jr.  1971.  Notropis mekistocholas, a new herbivorous cyprinid fish endemic to the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina.  Copeia 1971:449-462.  (1.2MB)

ABSTRACT:  Notropis mekistocholas is described as a new species.  It is unusual within the genus in exhibiting herbivorous adaptations-an elongate, convoluted intestine and black peritoneum.  It is compared with N. alborus and N. procne, two sympatric relatives that differ in lacking herbivorous modifications, in having seven rather than eight anal rays, and in numerous other features.  N. mekistocholas is the first known endemic species from the Cape Fear drainage in North Carolina.  It has a very restricted distribution in the east-central Piedmont province, being known from only four streams in Chatham and Harnett counties.  Intestinal modifications suggestive of an herbivorous diet are reported for N. anogenus and some species of the subgenus Luxilus.  There is no evidence to suggest that N. mekistocholas should be aligned with the southwestern genus Dionda, which contains herbivorous species superifically similar to Notropis species.  Closest relatives of N. mekistocholas appear to be N. procne and N. stramineus.

Abstract provided with kind permission from Allen Press (www.allenpress.com)


United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  1986.  Proposal to list the Cape Fear shiner as an endangered species with critical habitat.  Federal Register 51:25219-25223.  (446KB)

SUMMARY:  This document provides a review of all known information about the Cape Fear shiner through 1986 and the reasons for proposing to list the species as endangered.


United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  1987.  Determination of endangered species status and designation of critical habitat for Cape Fear shiner.  Federal Register 52:36034-36039.  (773KB)

SUMMARY:  Due to the reduction in range, reduction in population sizes, and threats of habitat degradation, the Cape Fear shiner was federally listed as an endangered species.  This document also designates critical habitat in the Deep, Rocky, and Haw Rivers.


United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  1988.  Cape Fear shiner recovery plan.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta,GA. 18 pp.  (1.1MB)

SUMMARY:  The recovery plan outlines actions to be taken to ensure the survival of the species and achieve self-sustaining viable Cape Fear shiner populations.  The actions to be taken include protection of the species and its habitat, biological and ecological studies, and public awareness.



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