WGF Members Publish Reports on Wisconsin Starhead Topminnow Recovery Project

WI Green Fire, August 31, 2021

from left to right, Dave Marshall, Sue Marcquenski, and Tim Larson, in Tim's boat full of coolers of starhead topminnows ready for stocking in Lake Wisconsin on May 5, 2021

A group of fisheries researchers, including WGF Fisheries Work Group chair John Lyons, recently published two of three reports on their efforts to restore the federally endangered Starhead Topminnow Fundulus dispar to Wisconsin, “Conserving the Starhead Topminnow Fundulus Dispar in Wisconsin” (1) Current Status and Threats and (2) Conservation Aquaculture. Three of the team members are pictured above, from left to right: Dave Marshall, Sue Marcquenski, and Tim Larson.

A female Starhead Topminnow. Photo: John Lyons

The Starhead Topminnow (pictured left) is a considered a “dickey” fish species, a species that is essential to the health and functioning of their native ecosystems but is often overshadowed by the popularity of larger sport fish. It thrives in shallow and clear waters with high vegetation density, and today are primarily found in the sloughs of the Lower Wisconsin River. To avoid the effects of agricultural pollution, John and the team of researchers sought to re-establish a population of Starhead Topminnows above the Prairie Du Sac Dam in a project spanning three years from 2018-2021.

The team’s first two reports, recently published in two issues of the American Currents journal, outline the historical and current status of the Starhead Topminnow, the role in plays in Wisconsin’s ecosystems, and the team’s project to re-establish the species above the Prairie Du Sac Dam. As the team completes its fourth and final year in the project, John is optimistic about this species’ future: “Our team’s work shows that with proper intervention, the fate of endangered species is not to continue to decline. With help, they can become more widespread and common and thus more secure.”

Stay tuned for the third and final report, due out this coming winter in American Currents (and then available from WGF), that will describe the overall results of the re-introduction project.

Read the reports:

Conserving the Starhead Topminnow Fundulus Dispar in Wisconsin: 1. Current Status and Threats

Conserving the Starhead Topminnow Fundulus Dispar in Wisconsin: 2. Conservation Aquaculture