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Conservation of imperiled Okaloosa Darters

Since 1992, Professor Frank Jordan and students from the Department of Biological Sciences and the Environment Program have been collaborating with stakeholders from the US Geological Survey, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US Air Force to study the biology, ecology, and conservation of imperiled Okaloosa Darters. This species of small fish is geographically limited to six small streams that are located primarily on Eglin Air Force Base in northwestern Florida. These studies included annual population monitoring surveys at a network of about 20 sites; periodic range-wide surveys at over 50 sites; development of sampling statistics and evaluation of visual sampling methods; characterization of microhabitat abundance and use; restoration of impounded stream sections; analysis of population genetic structure; analysis of movement and longevity; and most recently quantifying effects of canopy removal. Collectively, results of these studies largely informed the decision to “downlist” the species from Endangered to Threatened status in 2011 and more recently to the proposal by the USFWS to remove Okaloosa Darters from the Endangered Species List altogether. This will be a significant conservation milestone because – once listed – few species are recovered enough to come off the List. Read more about this study here.