Etheostoma sp. cf. zonistium, “Blueface darter”
Recent genetic analyses uncovered this undescribed cryptic species, formerly considered a peripheral form of the bandfin darter. Populations in the upper Bear Creek system in northern Alabama are extremely imperiled. Others in the upper Sipsey Fork system in the Bankhead National Forest are somewhat more secure, but still extremely restricted. Propagation efforts were initiated to elucidate reproductive and early life history characteristics, as well as develop protocols for future potential restoration or ark efforts, with the collection of Sipsey Fork fish in 2006. Only a few young were successfully reared in 2007 and thus far, it appears that blueface darters have typical spawning behavior for the snubnose darter group (subgenus Ulocentra), but that larvae are somewhat atypical, avoiding light and water movement, making them difficult to collect and rear passively.