Hemitremia flammea 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Cypriniformes Cyprinidae

Scientific Name: Hemitremia flammea (Jordan & Gilbert, 1878)
Common Name(s):
English Flame Chub
Phoxinus flammeus Jordan & Gilbert, 1878

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2012-02-13
Assessor(s): NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Ormes, M.
Listed as Near Threatened because area of occupancy is estimated to be less than 2000 sq km and may be less than 500 sq km, and distribution and abundance are declining (at a rate of probably less than 30 percent over 10 years). Although the current extent of occurrence is larger than 20,000 sq km, the number of locations is much larger than 10, the distribution is not severely fragmented, and population size probably exceeds 10,000, continuing declines and ongoing threats from human-caused habitat alteration and introductions of non-native fish species could  put the species in the Vulnerable category within the foreseeable future.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Range includes the middle Cumberland (mostly Caney Fork) and Tennessee River drainages, Tennessee, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, and Kentucky; a few isolated populations exist in the Coosa River system in northeastern Alabama (Lee et al. 1980, Etnier and Starnes 1993, Mettee et al. 1996, Boschung and Mayden 2004, Page and Burr 2011). The species was presumed extirpated from Kentucky (Burr and Warren 1986), but in 2011 several individuals were captured in Spring Creek (lower Cumberland drainage) in Simpson County (KDFWR Commissioner's Newsletter, Dec. 2011). .

Tennessee: The flame chub occupies spring-fed tributaries to the Tennessee River from the vicinity of Savannah, Tennessee (Hardin County) and upstream in the drainage to the vicinity of Knoxville, Tennessee; Duck River tributaries in middle Tennessee and upper Caney Fork system (Cumberland drainage) (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Sossamon 1990). It is especially common in spring tributaries to the Elk, Duck, and Caney Fork rivers, Franklin and Coffee counties, Tennessee. Somewhat disjunct populations occur in Caney Fork tributaries near Smithville, DeKalb County, Tennessee.
Countries occurrence:
United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Bruce Stallsmith (unpublished data, 2007) documented 18 localities with extant populations in Alabama. The current number of extant subpopulations in Tennessee is unknown. The species is very rare in Georgia.

Total population size is unknown but estimated to exceed 10,000 individuals. Field data forms of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Geological Survey of Alabama record many collections of Flame Chubs. These collection records indicate that a good locality may easily produce a minimum of 100 individuals. The mean number of individuals collected in 356 collections with numbers of Flame Chubs recorded (several localities were surveyed more than once) was 10.3 (range 1-428 individuals).

The current status of many Flame Chub populations is unknown. However, available data suggest that a major decline has occurred over the past several decades, and the species has been extirpated from many localities. For example, recent surveys found this species in only 18 of 53 sampled historical localities in Alabama (Stallsmith 2010); Alabama includes approximately half of the species' total range. Recent visits to springs in the upper Coosa revealed extirpation of populations as former spring habitats had been destroyed (Noel Burkhead pers. comm. 1999, Boschung and Mayden 2004). Species appears to be stable in the middle Tennessee River, but that is dependent on integrity of springs (Melvin Warren pers. comm. 1999). The species has nearly disappeared from eastern Tennessee, and is state-listed as endangered in Georgia.

Sossamon (1990) remarked on the importance of monitoring and conserving the Cades Cove population (in the Abrams Creek watershed, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blount County), as it is the only one remaining of two populations of Hemitremia reported from the Little Tennessee River system. She noted its small size, and commented that it was apparently declining.

Trend over the past 10 years (three generations are less than 10 years) is not well known, but area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are slowly declining. "Continued alteration of spring habitats is expected and will result in continued extirpation of populations" (Etnier and Starnes 1993).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Flame chubs inhabit springs, shallow seepage waters, and spring-fed streams (1 meter to more than 20 meters wide), usually over gravel in areas where aquatic vegetation is abundant (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Page and Burr 2011) or in slackwater near the bank in large streams (Boschung and Mayden 2004). Substrate may vary from mud to rubble or bedrock (Boschung and Mayden 2004). Sossamon (1990) found that a flame chub population in east Tennessee was usually associated with aquatic vegetation such as watercress, swamp smartweed, and small pondweed. Additionally, apparently spawning aggregations have been observed in flooded pastures and fields (Etnier and Starnes 1993, Mettee et al. 1996).

Although the species has been often described as a spring-dweller, only 16% of the 231 collection localities obtained by P. W. Shute were actually described as springs. However, examination of topographic maps indicates that most collection localities are within watersheds where springs are numerous. Most records are from streams of 4th order or smaller. It is possible that the species is relatively vagile and migrates to headwater areas, such as springs, or seeps adjacent to streams, for spawning. Alternatively, the species may exist in metapopulations, with the springs or seeps serving as refugia and sources for the stream localities.
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Flame chub populations have been extirpated from many areas because of alterations of springs (Page and Burr 2011). Springs and small headwater streams are highly vulnerable to many kinds of local perturbations, such as groundwater fluctuations caused by human uses, siltation due to agriculture, logging, or urbanization, and pollution from agricultural chemicals. In Alabama, some populations may have been lost due to human alteration of stream flow, and other populations are threatened by use of herbicides to remove aquatic vegetation and by introductions of non-native fishes (Bruce Stallsmith unpublished data 2007). The species' short life-span increases the likelihood of extirpation from short-term impacts.

Additionally, elevated bridge culverts may create barriers that exclude the fish and/or inhibit recruitment.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: An important management consideration is protection of springs and maintenance of natural hydrology and high water quality.

Citation: NatureServe. 2014. Hemitremia flammea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T9920A18234192. . Downloaded on 25 June 2018.
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