Six years ago, the Laurel Dace (Chrosomus saylori) was found in just five streams on the Cumberland Plateau. Thanks to a variety of threats, including the introduction of invasive predatory species and dirt runoff from nearby farms, this endangered fish’s range has dramatically diminished.
Today, the Laurel Dace populations can be found in just two streams. Recently, however, conservation scientists at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute have had success in spawning hundreds of larval Laurel Dace from adults collected in 2017 to create an “ark population” in order to protect the species against the possibility of extinction.
In the future, conservationists hope to work hand in hand with communities and farmers neighboring the Laurel Dace’s native waters to establish agricultural practices that will safeguard the waterways where it still can be found. And if spawning programs in human care continue to prove successful, this endangered species could one day be restored to its historic range.