09/03 - Two Minnows Listed as Endangered


Photographs courtesy of Chad Thomas/Texas State University - San Marcos

The sharpnose shiner (Notropis oxyrhynchus) and smalleye shiner (N. buccula) have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, effective September 3, 2014. Both the sharpnose shiner and the smalleye shiner are small minnows, measuring less than 2 inches, that were historically found throughout the Brazos River as well as major tributaries within the Brazos River watershed. Both species are now restricted almost entirely to the Brazos River and tributaries located upstream of Possum Kingdom Reservoir.

Along with the listing of the sharpnose and smalleye shiners, the US Fish and Wildlife Service designated 623 miles of stream stretches in the upper Brazos River basin and adjacent upland areas as critical habitat for both minnows. The critical habitat does not include manmade structures and the lands on which they are located, but is protected from new construction of roadways and other improvements. The decision to list these species and designate critical habitat was made after a decade of debate over the status of the two species. Both species have experienced significant population and range reductions due to drought and deterioration and/or loss of suitable habitat, which includes wide perennial streams with sandy bottoms and high water quality.

More information regarding the listing of the sharpnose and smalleye shiner, as well as the designated critical habitat, can be found here.