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Biodiversity Blog


Featured Species: Slenderhead Darter (Percina phoxocephala)

by Melissa Casarez and Adam Cohen (Ichthyology Collection)

 Percina phoxocephala KS
Illustration: Joseph Tomelleri


The Slenderhead Darter occurs throughout the Mississippi River basin, and only exists in Texas in tributaries of the Red River.  It was first documented in TX in 1994 by UT biologists Laurie Dries and David Hillis in Sanders Creek, a tributary of the Red, roughly halfway between Lake Texoma and the eastern border of the state. Those specimens are housed in our collection.  Records like this peak the interest of biologists who then wonder what other nearby streams this species might occur in.

Our group here at the Ichthyology Collection was informed about 10 years ago of a second Texas occurrence of Slenderhead Darters in Bois D’arc Creek, a large tributary about 45 km upstream of Sanders on the Red. These past two fall seasons, while conducting a fish survey in the area, our group sampled Sanders Creek along with several tributaries downstream from there to Texarkana.  Although we did not collect specimens of Slenderhead Darter in any new locations, we did collect specimens in Sanders Creek again. The population in Texas thus seems restricted to two large tributaries of the Red in Texas, and is likely fairly stable. More work is needed on this species in Texas.

You can learn more about Slenderhead Darter at the Fishes of Texas Project:


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 Slenderhead Darter collected in October, 2020 - Sanders Creek, Lamar County, TX
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