Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region

Topeka shiner


Species Description: The Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) is a small minnow, less than three inches in total length. It is an overall silvery color, with a well defined dark stripe along its side, and a dark wedge-shaped spot at the base pf the tail fin. Males develop additional reddish coloration in all other fins during the breeding season.

Location and Habitat: The Topeka shiner is know to occur in portions of South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. The Topeka shiners occurs primarily in small prairie (or former prairie) streams in pools containing clear, clean water. Most Topeka shiner streams are perennial (flow year-round), but some are small enough to stop flowing during dry summer months. In these circumstances, water levels must be maintained by groundwater seepage for the fish to survive. Topeka shiner streams generally have clean gravel, rock, or sand bottoms.

Recent Actions: On December 15, 1998, the Service listed the Topeka shiner as an endangered species und the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). (63 FR 69008). On July 27, 2004, the Service designated critical habitat for the Topeka shiner (69 FR 44736; archived supporting information). This rule designated critical habitat in Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Habitat in Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota was excluded for the designation.

In January 2010, the Service completed a 5-Year Review of the Topeka shiner. At the time of the species' original listing, we concluded that significant reductions in the species' range, within the context of continuing and expected impact, supported an endangered status. This conclusion was particularly accurate in southern portions of the range where historic changes in land-use, land-cover, and hydrology have largely reduced the species to small, isolated populations susceptible to ongoing and projected threats. Even with Federal protection, it is likely that additional sites in the portion of the range will be lost within the foreseeable future. However, some successful recovery efforts have been undertaken with demonstrated success. For example, in Iowa over 25 degraded oxbows were deepened and reconnected, yielding significant increases in Topeka shiner numbers.

Importantly, new distributional data and a better understanding of threats in the northern portion of the range have altered our perception of the species' overall status. Available information now suggests the species is distributed widely across its historic range in Minnesota and South Dakota. Populations in these two states represent about 70 percent of the species' current range. In short, the species appears to have been minimally impacted by historic and current threats in this portion of the range. Still, several potential future threats remain a long-tem concern.

Given the Topeka shiner's widespread distribution and apparent resilience to threats across northern portions of its range and recovery progress in portions of the remainder of the range, an endangered determination no longer seems appropriate. Thus, the review recommends downlisting to threatened. The review recommends downlisting instead of delisting because of the species' current vulnerability in southern portions of the range and potential long-term impacts to the hydrology in the northern portion of the range. Implementing this recommendation will require a rulemaking.


More information can be found on the Service's ECOS webpage.

Last updated: May 7, 2010