Phoxinus saylori, Laurel dace

Laurel dace, Phoxinus saylori
Laurel dace, Phoxinus saylori

The laurel dace was listed as a federal candidate species in 2007. It is a rare minnow known only from three independent systems on the Walden Ridge section of the Cumberland Plateau, including Soddy Creek, Sale Creek, and Piney River. The primary threats to the laurel dace stem from impacts to riparian and instream habitat resulting from incompatible land uses. The riparian habitats associated with some streams occupied by laurel dace have been affected by extensive timber removal activities on Walden Ridge in their vicinity; these activities often do not employ adequate streamside management zones or best management practices for road construction. Proposed projects, including installation of a water line that would cross occupied streams and construction of an impoundment on a tributary to an occupied stream, present additional direct and indirect threats to laurel dace habitat in the headwaters of Sale and Soddy creeks. We believe that the threat of habitat degradation from siltation across the range of laurel dace and the localized threats facing populations in Sale and Soddy creeks combined with vulnerable status of the populations in Soddy and Sale creeks constitute threats collectively of high magnitude, but are nonimminent. 

Someone studying this before it was described brought us several eggs. We were able to hatch and rear them, contributing to understanding the early life history of these beautiful dace. We hope to do more work with this species in the near future.