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Endangered Species Program
Conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems
Questions and Answers
1) What is a Topeka shiner?
The Topeka shiner is a small minnow, normally less than 3 inches long. It is silvery-green with a distinct dark stripe preceding the dorsal fin and a dusky stripe along the entire length of the fish. The scales above this line are outlined with dark pigment, appearing cross-hatched, while the scales below this line have no pigment, appearing silvery-white in color.
2) What is the range of the Topeka shiner?
The Topeka shiner's historic range included parts of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. It is still present in these states, but exists only in small, isolated populations in a significant portion of its current range.
3) Where do Topeka shiners live?
Topeka shiners live in small to mid-size prairie streams in the central United States where they are usually found in pool and run areas. Suitable streams tend to have good water quality and cool to moderate temperatures. Many of these streams have year-round flow, although some may become dry during summer or periods of prolonged drought. Occasionally, Topeka shiners are found in larger streams that are downstream of large populations. In Iowa, Minnesota, and portions of South Dakota, Topeka shiners also live in oxbows and off-channel pools.
4) Why is the Topeka shiner declining?
The Topeka shiner was once a common fish throughout its range but its presence has declined by about 70 percent at known collection sites during the last 40 to 50 years. Habitat destruction, sedimentation, and changes in water quality are thought to have caused the population decline. Also, the creation of impoundments on small prairie streams that were stocked with predaceous fish like the largemouth reduced Topeka shiner numbers.
5) What activities harm Topeka shiner habitat?
6) What is being done to protect the Topeka shiner?
Measures to protect the Topeka shiner include:
7) What protection does the Topeka shiner currently receive as a listed species?
The ESA prohibits the import, export, or interstate or foreign sale of protected animals and plants without a special permit. Under the ESA, take means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.
The ESA requires Federal agencies to consult with the Service to conserve listed species and ensure that any activity they fund, authorize, or carry out will not jeopardize the continued survival and recovery of a listed species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. The ESA also directs all Federal agencies to use their existing authorities to develop and carry out programs to conserve endangered and threatened species.
The Service may issue permits for activities that are otherwise prohibited under the ESA, if these activities are for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species, or for take that is incidental to otherwise lawful activities.
8) What can I do to conserve Topeka shiners?
There are a number of things that landowners and others can do to conserve Topeka shiners, including:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State conservation agencies can assist landowners with the funding and implementation of projects to conserve Topeka shiners and their stream habitats.
9) Where can I get more information on the Topeka Shiner and critical habitat?
For general information on Topeka shiners and the designation of critical habitat contact Vernon Tabor at the Kansas Ecological Services Field Office, at the above address; telephone 785/539-3474; facsimile 785/539-8567.
For local information on Topeka shiners in your state, contact one of the Service field offices below:
Last updated: March 12, 2018