Header image courtsey of Wisconsin DNR


RegionRegions Map of Orangethroat darter

  The orangethroat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) can be found throughout North America, specifically in rivers, streams which flow, or are near to the Mississippi River (Ceas and Page, 1997).  The extremes of these darters are southern Wisconsin, Texas, Wyoming and Colorado, and Ohio (Hubbs, 1985:Trautman, 1957).  Orangethroat darters are most common throughout the states bordering the Mississippi River or the southern most Great Lakes (Trautman, 1957:Wesner, 2010). The image to the right depicts the regions where one could expect to see orangethroat darters.  Note the dark shading near the most populous regions, and the mere line near the less populous regions. 

Habitat and Niche

  Orangethroat darters prefer medium or narrow (3-20 feet), shallow streams (5 inches), compared to larger and deeper streams, as found in research done by Milton B. Trautman (1957).

  Orangethroat darters typically live in riffles (Gillette, 2012).  Riffles are areas of streams and small rivers which are relatively shallow, and have a gravel bed (Ceas and Page, 1997).  Water in riffles has movement, but movement no greater than moderate flow, although orangethroat darters can also be found in the faster waters directly upstream or downstream of these calm regions (Ceas and Page, 1997). 

  Orangethroat darters do not seem to be very temperamental, as groups can survive in isolated patches of water, as long as a slight current is maintained (Ceas and Page, 1997).

  The Etheostoma spectabile is not often found living with other darters, such as the very similar rainbow darter:  after rainbow darters have cleared from an area, orangethroat darters may then make the area their own (Trautman, 1957).  This occurrence is most likely due to competition between the two very similar species.  One interesting tactic that is done by young orangethroat darters after they hatch, is to spend time in the nests of smallmouth bass to protect themselves from small predators in their most vulnerable days of life (Cease and Page, 1997).







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