Illustrations by Joseph Tomelleri
Biologists have described five new species of darters in freshwater river systems in the eastern, midwest, and southern United States and named them after four U.S. presidents and a vice president, including one named in honor of current President Barack Obama.
All are placed in the genus Etheostoma, small freshwater fishes in the family Percidae known for their eyecatching color patterns. Fishbase lists more than 150 valid species of Etheostoma spp. darters.
According to Prof. Richard Mayden of the Saint Louis University’s Department of Biology and Dr. Steven Layman of Geosyntec Consultants, authors of a paper that describes the newly found species in the Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the species are named after former or current U.S leaders who have worked to promote conservation and environmental protection: Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Barack Obama. (The group includes four Democrats and one Republican: Teddy Roosevelt, president from 1901 to 1909.)
The new species also have common names: the Highland Darter (Etheostoma teddyroosevelt), the Bluegrass Darter (Etheostoma jimmycarter), the Beaded Darter (Etheostoma clinton), the Cumberland Darter (Etheostoma gore) and the Spangled Darter (Etheostoma obama). According to the authors, these darters live in waters in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Bibliographic information: Layman SR and Mayden RL. 2012. Morphological diversity and phylogenetics of the darter subgenus Doration (Percidae: Etheostoma), with descriptions of five new species. Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, no.30: 1-83