Iowa Darter

The Iowa Darter (Etheostoma exile) is a state-threatened fish species inhabiting a limited range in northern Illinois.

Range of Iowa Darter from Smith (1979)
  • Historical surveys (from 1901-1995) found Iowa Darters at only 40 sites – 19 sites being glacial lakes near the Wisconsin border.
  • Based on the surveys, Smith (1979) suggested that this species primarily inhabits glacial lakes in Illinois.
  • Since 1995, E. exile has been collected at 37 sites, with only 13 of those sites being lakes.
  • Many recent collections have been from headwater streams with no or limited records of previous fish sampling.
  • New records suggest the need to evaluate if Iowa Darters routinely inhabit the headwater streams of northern Illinois.
  • Species distribution models were created to guide future sampling.
  • Models indicated that many of the potential locations for E. exile are headwater streams not previously sampled.



Iowa Darter – Etheostoma exile
photo by J Tiemann

Going forward, the goal of our study is to:

  • assess whether populations of E. exile are common in headwaters of northern Illinois and
  • determine the local habitat needs of this species within headwaters where they are found.


For more information:

Sherwood, J.L., A.J. Stites, M.J. Dreslik, J.S. Tiemann. 2018. Predicting the Range of a regionally threatened, benthic fish using species distribution models and field surveys. Journal of Fish Biology. doi:10.1111/jfb.13819

Stites, A.J., J.L. Sherwood, J.S. Tiemann, and M. J. Dreslik. “Reassessment of Iowa Darter Habitat in Illinois.” 2016 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Grand Rapids, MI and 2016 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, New Orleans, LA. (Poster Presentation)