Press Release
Collaborative Conservation in the Great Plains Leads to Recommendation of Improved Status for Topeka Shiner
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Completes Five-year Review with Status Recommendation and Final Recovery Plan for Great Plains Fish

DENVER – Due to collaborative conservation efforts across six states in the Great Plains, the Topeka shiner has a brighter and more sustainable future. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing today the completion of a five-year review which recommends a change in the species’ status from endangered to threatened and has published a final recovery plan to continue efforts to recover the species.

“We would like to thank all the state agencies and partners involved for their willingness to engage and collaborate efforts alongside the Service towards the recovery of the Topeka shiner,” said Matt Hogan, Acting Regional Director for the Service. “We are excited to say the recovery actions by conservation partners have led to the recommendation to reclassify the species to threatened status.”

Conservation actions, including restoring off-channel oxbows and reconnecting fragmented watersheds, have improved habitat and helped inform the Service about Topeka shiner behavior. The results of these actions have led to a better knowledge and understanding of the species’ preferred habitat, which will better tailor our survey efforts and continue to drive conservation.

In the late 1990s, the Topeka shiner, a distinctive native fish of the Great Plains, was in trouble. Once common across its range, the tiny three-inch minnow has faced impacts associated with the health of its habitat, including predation, sedimentation, and changes in water quality primarily driven by anthropogenic factors. The occupied range at the time of listing was thought to have declined by 80%, with about 50% of that loss occurring rapidly within the previous 25 years. As a result, the species was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1998. Today, the Topeka shiner occupies approximately 223 streams across six states, a much wider distribution than known at the time of listing.

The Service completed a five-year status review that found the Topeka shiner is expected to remain in multiple populations throughout its range within the foreseeable future. While the five-year review found Topeka shiner no longer meets the definition of an endangered species under the ESA, many ongoing threats remain, particularly in southern populations. Therefore, the Service recommends the reclassification of this species from endangered to threatened.

The five-year review is informed by a peer-reviewed species status assessment that compiled and evaluated the best available scientific information on the species. The assessment evaluated the species' current needs, conditions, and threats, in addition to modeling future scenarios. In completing the assessment, the Service worked with scientific experts, federal and state partners, and an independent peer review panel. More information about 5-year status reviews and species status assessments is available on our website.

The Service has also completed the Topeka shiner's final recovery plan following an announcement of the draft recovery plan in January 2020 and associated 60-day public comment period. The final recovery plan incorporates feedback from public comments and partner input. Revisions were made to articulate the recovery criteria more clearly, including a visual diagram depicting how the recovery criteria could be met for this species.

A recovery plan is a non-regulatory document that acts as a guidebook towards a shared goal of ensuring a species' long-term survival in the wild. It outlines site-specific management actions that contribute to the recovery of the species, describes the time and cost estimates for implementing those actions, and outlines measurable criteria for delisting. More information about recovery planning is available on our website.

The recovery plan calls for multiple resilient groups of populations spread across the species' multi-state range, suitable habitat conditions, and connectivity to allow for recolonization. The Service will continue to grow its long-term conservation partnerships with state wildlife agencies, natural resource managers, ranchers, farmers, and other groups to recover the species.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the West, visit our website, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: FacebookTwitterFlickrYouTube, and Instagram.

Story Tags

Endangered and/or Threatened species
Freshwater fish