Arkansas River Shiner (Notropis girardi)
(Federally listed as Threatened)
Description: This is a small streamlined minnow that rarely exceeds 2.5 inches in length. The upper body color is a very light tan, and the sides and belly are a silvery white. There is a small, dark chevron-shaped marking at the base of the tail fin. This species lives in schools and feeds on small aquatic insects and invertebrates.
Habitat: The Arkansas River Shiner inhabits the shallow braided channels of wide sandy prairie rivers in the Arkansas River system. Schools of shiners often gather on the lee side of sandbars and ridges of sand it the river channel. They spawn after heavy summer rains and their eggs drift with the water current and develop as they are carried downstream.
Current and Historic Distribution: At the present time, nearly all of the remaining Arkansas River Shiners occur in the Canadian River in Oklahoma, western Texas and eastern New Mexico. A small population may persist in the Cimarron River in Oklahoma, and an isolated population occurs in the Pecos River in southwestern Texas where they were accidentally introduced. Historically, the Arkansas River Shiner occupied all of the major river tributaries to the Arkansas River in the Great Plains including the Cimarron, North Canadian and Canadian rivers as well as the Arkansas River itself.
Reasons for Decline: Since the 1950s, the Arkansas River Shiner has decline dramatically and has been extirpated from nearly 80% of its historic range. The reasons for its decline are unclear but the alteration of river flow patterns as a result of reservoir construction and the removal of water from the watershed for irrigation and household use has probably had the greatest effect. Competition with the accidentally introduced Red River Shiner, may have affected the Cimarron River population.