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Ospreys are an indicator species. The health of their population has implications for the health our coastal ecosystems.
New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide
Species Group: Fish
State: Special Concern
The species grows to about 3 ½ inches in length. The body is olive to tan above with 6-7 horizontally rectangular black blotches on its side, usually joined by a narrow black stripe. Wavy brown lines join 8-11 dark saddles on back to dark blotches on side. There is a black spot below the center of the caudal fin base and a large black teardrop on the head. There is also a row of black crescents along the base of the first dorsal fin.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
This species inhabits the Susquehanna River watershed from as far north as southern New York to drainages around the northern Chesapeake, as well as portions of northwestern New Jersey and northern and central Virginia.
Habitat includes gravel and sand riffles and runs of creeks and small to medium rivers. Most common over fine gravel on downstream side of rubble riffles.
This species feeds on small terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates.
Shield darters spawn between April and late May. Eggs are buried in gravel and individuals are sexually mature in one year.
CURRENT STATUS, THREATS, AND CONSERVATION
This species has a limited range in New Jersey and populations within the state are small. It is relatively intolerant of habitat degradation or poor water quality. Although populations appear to be stable within the Delaware River and some tributaries, other populations in the state have been and will continue to decline due to degradation of habitat and water quality.
In 2016, the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee recommended a Special Concern status for this species, but no formal rule proposal has been filed to date.
Text written by Michael J. Davenport in 2016.
- Arndt, Rudolf G. 2004. “Annotated Checklist and Distribution of New Jersey Freshwater Fishes, With Comments on Abundance.” The Bulletin: New Jersey Academy of Scince. Vol. 49, No. 1.
- Page, Lawrence M. and B.M. Burr. 2011. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico.
Species: P. peltata
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