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First records of a fish species, the ghost shiner notropis buchanani, in Michigan.


We report here the first record in Michigan of a new fish species, the ghost shiner Notropis buchanai. Specimens were collected from 4 of 17 tributaries we sampled for non-indigenous round Neogobius melanostomus and tubenose Proterorhinus marmoratus gobies along the U.S. side of the Lake Huron to the Lake Erie corridor. Ghost shiners were collected in the Belle, Pine, and Black Rivers, which are adjacent to each other and tributaries to the St. Clair River (St. Clair County) and in the Brownstown/Marsh Creek, which flows into the Detroit River near Lake Erie (Wayne County). Ghost shiners are native in states south of Michigan, such as Ohio and Illinois, and they were found in 1972 in Canada on the eastern side of Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair. Ghost shiners found in Michigan may have migrated to these river systems from other adjacent areas, been transferred to Michigan in bait buckets, or may have resided here all along, but were not detected by ichthyologists.


Little is known about the life history of the ghost shiner Notropis buchanani Meek. Spawning seasons and substrates have been rarely described and are poorly understood. They usually occur in quiet waters of large rivers in the Mississippi watershed (Gilbert 1980) and have been found in both clear and turbid systems (Trautman 1981). They have not been reported as native to the Great Lakes drainage, but some controversy exists (Hubbs and Lagler 1970, Holm and Houston 1993, Kott and Fitzgerald 2000). Over the period 1972 to 1997, investigators collected numerous specimens at over 100 sites from the Canadian Lake St. Clair watershed (southwestern Ontario) including from the Thames River, North and East Sydenham rivers, Belle River (south shore),and Mitchells Bay (northeast bay) (Holm and Coker 1981; Holm and Houston 1993; Kott and Fitzgerald 2000; Erling Holm, personal communication, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Their origins in Canada are unk nown; Kott and Fitzgerald (2000) believe they are native, while Holm and Houston (1993) suggested they were most likely introduced, but could have been native. Ghost shiners are native to Ohio, Iowa, and other southern states, such as Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. They are easily confused with the closely related mimic shiner Notropis volucellus (Amemiya and Gold 1990), which has a more highly developed infraorbital canal. Ghost shiners have not previously been collected from Michigan (Hubbs and Lagler 1970, Smith 1979, Trautman 1981). They have been reported as rare across much of their range (Becker 1983, Trautman 1981, Pflieger 1971, Cross 1967, Harlan and Speaker 1969, Schelske 1957, Minckley 1959). They are a protected species in Ohio (Johnson 1987), an endangered species in Pennsylvania (Cooper 1985), are considered extirpated in Wisconsin (Becker 1983, Les 1979), and have not been collected in Minnesota since 1945 (Underhill 1957).


Ghost shiners were collected using a 4.7-in bag seine (Jude and DeBoe 1996) as part of a study of the penetration of the non-indigenous tubenose Proterorhinus marmoratus and round Neogobius melanostomus gobies into tributary streams of the Lake Huron to Lake Erie corridor (Jude 2001). We seined at various sites in each stream or river system (approximately five seine hauls or kick seines per site) proceeding upstream until we collected no more round or tubenose gobies. Seine hauls were conducted during 1998-2000 in 17 Michigan tributaries to Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and Lake Erie. All fishes collected were frozen or preserved in alcohol for further processing back in the laboratory. Ghost shiners were identified by Gerald R. Smith of the Fish Division of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. Some specimens from this study and those of Latta (2000) were placed in the museum's collections.


Ghost shiners were found in 4 of the 17 tributaries sampled along the Lake Huron to Lake Erie corridor during studies conducted in 1998-2001 (Figure 1, Table 1). They were found in Brownstown/Marsh Creek, which flows into the Detroit River near Lake Erie (Wayne County). In addition, they were found in three tributaries of the St. Clair River: the Belle, Pine, and Black rivers, located in St. Clair County. In 1998, ghost shiners were collected from one site on the Belle River and two sites on the Black River. Subsequent sampling in October 2001 revealed their presence in one additional site far upstream on the Pine River (intersection of Mayer and Neuman roads). Latta (2000) and Bailey et al. (2000) found them at our original St. Clair County sites and one additional site at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) access site off of Belle River Road on the Belle River.

All of our specimens were <50 mm total length and were found in a variety of habitats. The Belle River at Meisner Road is deep and about 35 m wide where specimens were collected nearshore in a quiet water embayment with muddy substrate and large quantities of aquatic vegetation. The Wadhams Road site on the Black River included a rocky riffle area below the bridge with considerable current, clear water, and no vegetation present. Maximum depth was 3 m during summer, 1998. The October 2001 collections were obtained after a rain event, which elevated water level, caused high turbidity and limited seining to nearshore, flooded vegetation, where apparently some ghost shiners had congregated. The other Black River site was downstream from the Wadhams site (0.5 km) and was characterized by some macrophytes, muddy substrate, moderately clear water, and moderate current. The Belle River site at the DNR access was characterized by turbid water, many macrophytes, rocks and debris, and fast currents during our 25 Octobe r 2001 sampling after a rain event. The Brownstown/Marsh Creek site was at a bridge overpass and is a drainage ditch about 4 m maximum depth, with mucky sediments, turbid waters, and no vegetation present.

Ghost shiners were collected from a variety of sites, some far upriver (Black River Wadhams Road site -- 15.1 km upstream from the mouth at the St. Clair River; and Pine River at the Mayer/Neuman Road intersection site -- 19.8 km upstream from the mouth) and some occurred close to the St. Clair River (Belle River at DNR access site -- 3.7 km upstream). The farthest upriver where fish were collected was 19.8 km (Mayer/Neuman Road on the Pine River); ghost shiners were also collected 8.8 km upstream on the Pine River at the Vine Road site (Latta 2000).


Discovery of ghost shiners in Michigan raises perplexing questions. One of the predictions of climate warming is the replacement of cool water species with warm water species and expansion of the range of warm water fishes (Meisner et al. 1987). Since this is a species with a more southern distribution, and it has been recorded in Canada (Holm and Houston 1993) and Ohio (R. Thoma, personal communication, Twinsburg, Ohio) to be expanding its range, increased temperatures may have favored the survival of this fish. Fish found in Michigan may have migrated to these river systems from other adjacent areas, been transferred to Michigan in bait buckets, or may have resided here all along, escaping detection by ichthyologists. Since the ghost shiner exists in two Ontario tributaries to Lake Huron, two sites on the Canadian side of the St. Clair River, and at rivers tributary to Lake St. Clair on the eastern and southern side of Lake St. Clair (Holm and Coker 1981, Holm and Houston 1993), there is a resident populati on from which ghost shiners may have migrated into or across the St. Clair River and hence into the Pine, Black, and Belle rivers. The earliest known discovery of ghost shiners in Canadian Lake St. Clair was in 1972, allowing some 30 yr for ghost shiners to migrate to Michigan rivers. In Ohio, ghost shiners have been migrating northward from river to river along the Lake Erie shoreline, demonstrating their apparent ability to migrate some distances (R. Thoma, personal communication, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Twinsburg, Ohio). However, ghost shiners have not been found on the U.S. side of Lake St. Clair or in other rivers north to the Thunder Bay River in Thunder Bay, Michigan, or south to the Raisin River, a Lake Erie tributary, with the exception of the Detroit River tributary site (Table 1; Jude, unpublished data; Bailey et al. 2000; Latta 2000).

The second alternative which may explain their appearance in Michigan, may be bait-bucket transfer (Nico and Fuller 1999, Mills et al. 1993), a phenomenon thought responsible for the transfer of round gobies from the St. Clair River to inland rivers in Michigan which had no connection to source rivers with round gobies (Jude 2001). Holm and Houston (1993) favor this mechanism as being responsible for the Canadian populations. However, ghost shiners are usually rare, are probably too small to be valued bait for fishermen, and appear to be a frail species with high dissolved oxygen requirements (Trautman 1981), unsuitable for transfer and use as bait in Michigan. In addition, little fishing occurs on Marsh Creek, where they also occur.

The third possible explanation for the appearance of ghost shiners in Michigan may be that they were present all along, but because they were rare and difficult to identify (Holm and Houston 1993), early investigators simply missed collecting them or failed to identify them correctly. Kott and Fitzgerald (2000) concluded that the recently discovered ghost shiners in Canada, when compared morphologically with other specimens from more southern locales, were native to Canada and were probably overlooked in earlier surveys. We plan on using DNA techniques (see Fernandez-Pedrosa et al. 1996) to evaluate these hypotheses in future studies by comparing Michigan specimens with potential source populations.


We thank Stephanie Carman, Frank Ferguson, Rebecca Hayes, and Julie Ryan for assistance in collection of fishes for this study, which was funded through National Sea Grant. We could not have completed the study without the encouragement and taxonomic assistance of Gerald Smith of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. Gerald Smith, J. Alan Holman, Erling Holm, and Stephen Schneider provided important comments on the manuscript. We thank Shannon Brines, who did the GIS work to produce the figure using our data and that provided by Erling Holm. William Latta provided information on ghost shiner collections. Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences Contribution No. 621.


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Dates and locations where at least one ghost shiner Notropis buchanani
was collected in Michigan. All rivers are in St. Clair County, except
Brownstown/Marsh Creek (Marsh), which is in Wayne County. Under
collectors, other includes: Latta (2000) and Bailey et al. (2000).
Multiple sites for one river listed in order of closest to St. Clair
River to farthest.

River Site (Location) Date Collectors

Marsh Under bridge at Gibraltar Road 11 Nov 1999 This study
 (42[degrees]05'40" N, 83[degrees]
 12'37" W)

Belle At DNR access site, Belle River 26 Jul 2000 Other
 (42[degrees]44'36" N, 82[degrees]
 29'29" W)

 Meisner Road crossing 6 Aug 1998 This study
 (42[degrees]45'11" N, 82[degrees] 25 Oct 2001 This study
 29'30" W)

Pine 0.1 km downstream from Vine Road 26 Jul 2000 Other
 (42[degrees]50'14" N, 82[degrees]
 32'19" W)

 Intersection of Newman/Mayer Road 25 Oct 2001 This study
 (42[degrees]51'29" N, 82[degrees]
 36'58" W)

Black Wadhams Road crossing 11 Aug 1998 This study
 (42[degrees]59'21" N, 82[degrees] 25 Oct 2001 This study
 32'13" W)

 0.5 km downstream from Wadhams Road 12 Aug 1998 This study
 (42[degrees]59'32" N, 82[degrees] 25 Oct 2001 This study
 31'53" W) 27 Jul 2000 Other
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Author:Jude, David J.; Hensler, Stephen R.
Publication:Michigan Academician
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Sep 22, 2001
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