Southeast Ecological Science Center
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Okaloosa Darter Population Monitoring
Conservation of Southeastern Aquatic Fauna
Using innovative sampling and biometric techniques, USGS and Loyola University New Orleans researchers provided the data that were used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop the rule to downlist Okaloosa darters from endangered to threatened. For the past 15 years, this research team has used snorkel, mask, and wetsuit to count and estimate the number of these 50-mm (2-inch) fish in the six small stream systems on Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle. They established that by using visual methods, they were observing an average of three times the number of darters than were captured using the more traditional seine nets. With an estimated total number of darters around 600,000, and commitments by Eglin AFB to continue habitat restoration efforts, the outlook for the Okaloosa darter appears secure. Monitoring the darter will continue to ensure that these fish remain part of the aquatic environment.