SCIENTIFIC NAME: Percina lenticula
CHARACTERISTICS: The freckled darter, a member of the subgenus Hadropterus, is considered by taxonomists to be one of the more primitive darters in the family Percidae. Percina lenticula is distinguished by high lateral line scale counts (modally 80 to 86 scales) and a large maximum body size in comparison to other darters. The back has eight dark dorsal saddles and the sides have around eight dark vertical blotches. The venter and breast are light or dusky, while the head is mottled above and below. A large black blotch occurs at the origin of the soft dorsal fin, which has more rays (modally 13) than in other species of Hadropterus. Three vertically aligned spots at the base of the caudal fin are often fused. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins usually contain light and dark banding. Neither six develops bright nuptial color. Freckled darter males develop a double row of enlarged mid-ventral scales, a feature rarely observed in other Percina species. See Suttkus and Ramsey (1967) for comparisons with P. aurolineata, P. nigrofasciata, and P. sciera.
ADULT SIZE: 3.9 to 6.6 in (100 to 168 mm). This is the largest darter in North America (Page and Burr, 1979).
DISTRIBUTION: Percina lenticula is found from the Pearl River system in Mississippi east to the Mobile basin. Most records of freckled darters in the Mobile basin are below the Fall Line, although scattered records exist just above this line in the Cahaba and Coosa river systems and in the upper Coosa River system in Georgia.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Individuals usually live in deep, swift areas of flowing rivers and large streams. Pierson et al. (1989) report a preferred habitat of deep runs and rapids with moderate to fast current with juveniles occurring in Fusticia beds of shallow riffles. Little is known about the life history of this species, however, it presumably spawns in the spring, late march to early may, and eats aquatic insects and crustaceans. Suttkus’ field notes indicate 12 young P. lenticula (18-23 mm SL) were found on a flooded, vegetated sandbar of the Pearl River in Louisiana during April 1995. Twenty-three young Etheostoma histrio (15-23 mm SL) and 18 young Percina vigil (18-26 mm SL) were also taken with the P. lenticula.
REMARKS: The type locality of the freckled darter is the Cahaba River, Bibb County, Alabama.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Richards and Knapp described the freckled darter in 1964.
Percina is a diminutive of Perca, meaning perch.
Lenticula means freckled, referring to the frecklelike spots on the pectoral fin base.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
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