Fantail Darter: Etheostoma flabellare


The Fantail Darter possesses both negative (competition, predation, parasitism, etc.) and positive (mutualism, commensalism, etc.) interactions with surrounding species. Along with other organisms, this fish takes part in mixed-species interactions, forming "intracommunity events," or organizational or successful changes in the physical environment (Holomunzki, Joseph R., Jack W. Feminella, and Mary E. Power. 2010).




Predators and herbivores consume much of the environment, forcing other fish to fight for their lives. These fish are eaten mostly by predators that share their habitat, such as the burbot, lake trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch. Because the Fantail Darter is commonly found in shallow areas, it is common for fish-eating birds to view them as prey as well. The environment and prey and predator traits affect the predator/prey relationship. The Fantail Darter can reduce its chance of becoming prey by living where predators cannot hunt effectively. Size and age play key factors into predation. A young Fantail Darter has a more likely chance of being consumed than an adult will.   

Competition plays a key role in the interactions formed by the Fantail Darter. It faces competition both directly and indirectly. Due to population dynamics, juveniles of the Fantail Darter compete the most for survival. Juvenile fish densities are high in natural populations, causing potential food and habitat to be limited. For example, a juvenile a Fantail Darter and a juvenile Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi) are both benthic fish that are commonly found in the same areas. These two species have a competitive relationship with one another in that they compete for reproduction, survival, growth, and relative conditions (Resetaris, Jr., William J., 1997).



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