Joseph T. Collins
Reaching a maximum size of 2.5 inches, the Arkansas Darter is a stout-bodied member of the perch family. They are olivaceous brown above and yellowish white below with six to nine indistinct dusky saddles over the back. During spawning, males are a colorful orange along their lower abdomen.
Arkansas Darters prefer shallow, clear, spring-fed tributary and headwater streams having sand or sandy-gravel substrates. The fish are almost invariably associated with vegetative cover in spring-fed channels and generally are found in near-shore areas away from swift currents. Because of its specialized habitat requirements, this darter is localized within its range but may be quite common where it does occur.
Viable populations of Arkansas Darters are currently known only in suitable streams south of the Arkansas River in southcentral Kansas and in Spring River drainage in Cherokee County. The darter’s range extends into eastern Colorado, southwestern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas and northcentral Oklahoma where local populations occur. Kansas constitutes the Arkansas Darter’s primary range.
Arkansas Darters are protected by the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act and administrative regulations applicable thereto. Any time an eligible project is proposed that will impact the species’ preferred habitats within its probable range, the project sponsor must contact the Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, Kansas 67124-8174. Department personnel can then advise the project sponsor on permit requirements.DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITATS
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife. Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Arkansas Darter:
(1) The main stem of the North Fork Ninnescah River on the Stafford/Reno County line (Sec. 31-T24S-R10W) to its confluence with South Fork Ninnescah River in Sedgwick County (Sec. 36-T28S-R4W).
(2) The main stem of the South Fork Ninnescah River on the Sedgwick/Kingman County line (Sec. 19-T28S-R4W) to the confluence with the North Fork Ninnescah River (Sec. 36-T28S-R4W) in Sedgwick County.
(3) That reach of the main stem Spring River from the Kansas-Missouri border (Sec. 1-T33S-R25E) to where it crosses SE Lostine Road (Sec. 3-T34S-R25E).
(4) Numerous perennial spring-fed reaches of named and unnamed streams south of the Arkansas River within Barber, Clark, Comanche, Cowley, Harper, Kingman, Kiowa, Meade, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sedgwick, Seward and Stafford counties. Contact the Department’s Environmental Services Section for further information.