The amber darter (Percina antesella) is a small fish that lives in the Etowah and Conasauga Rivers of Georgia and Tennessee. It has a slender body reaching up to 3 inches long with a moderately long and pointed snout and a distinct vertical bar (or tear drop) below the eye. Amber darters are brownish in color with four dark saddles across its body when seen from above (dorsal) and a white or yellowish lower side (ventral). The saddles are believed to help darters blend into a rocky streambed, resembling the light and shadows cast over small stones. Amber darters typically hang out in shallow, fast-moving riffles and runs of the Conasauga River mainstem, and the mainstem and certain large tributaries of the Etowah River above Lake Allatoona. They like to forage along the streambed for snails, limpets, and aquatic insects. Long-term monitoring has tracked their marked declines in abundance and occupancy of habitat. Because they are only found in the Conasauga River, the species is vulnerable to extreme events like toxic chemical spills, catastrophic natural events (e.g., flood or severe drought), genetic drift, and other events. High flow events of recent years may be affecting spawning success and recruitment.
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