Noturus flavipinnisYellowfin Madtom

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Geographic Range

Noturus flavipinnis (yellowfin madtom) can be found only in the upper portion of the Tennessee River drainage, in the Powell River and Citico Creek in Tennessee, and in Copper Creek in Virginia. Before 1893, yellowfin madtom populations could also be found in North Fork Holston River in Virginia, Hines Creek in Tennessee, and Chickamauga Creek in Georgia. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Habitat

Noturus flavipinnis inhabits pools and backwaters of streams, where it can find cover beneath tree roots, sunken leaves, brush piles, or bedrock ledges. Individuals can be found in shallow pools less than one meter deep, and are usually not found further down than two meters in deeper pools. The streams where Noturus flavipinnis can be found are clean, with little siltation. Spawning habitat may be in the cleaner substrate of quicker currents than their usual habitat. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • benthic
  • rivers and streams
  • Range depth
    2 (high) m
    6.56 (high) ft

Physical Description

Noturus flavipinnis is a small member of the catfish family (Ictaluridae), with a maximum standard length of 115 mm. The dorsal area and fins have a yellowish tinge. There are dark blotches beneath the dorsal fin origin, behind the dorsal fin, and at the adipose fin base. The caudal fin base has a crescent-shaped dark bar crossing it, and the dorsal fin has a dark medial stripe. The pectoral spine has well-developed anterior and posterior serrae. Caudal fin rays number 54 to 63, pelvic fin rays 8, sometimes 7. Anal fin rays number 14 to 16, and there are usually two internasal pores.

Similar species include Noturus baileyi (smoky madtom), but this species can be distinguished from yellowfin madtom by its nearly complete lack of dark pigmentation on the dorsal and caudal fins. (Etnier and Etnier, 2001; Etnier and Starnes, 1993; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Range length
    115 (high) mm
    4.53 (high) in

Development

The hatching size of Noturus flavipinnis larvae is approximately 8 mm standard length. The development times for the species are unknown, but they probably depend upon temperatures of the water. After one summer's growth, the young reach lengths of approximately 50 mm. Both sexes become reproductively mature in the third summer of their lives, when they have reached a length of approximately 100 mm. They will live to be 3 to 4 years old, and will probably only spawn twice in their lifetime. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Reproduction

Noturus flavipinnis reproduces from late May to mid July. Females may be able to spawn twice per season, and as the male guards the nest, mating is probably polyandrous, with no pair bonds formed. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Noturus flavipinnis spawns from late May to mid July. Females produce 121 to 278 eggs per season, probably in multiple spawning acts, since males appear to guard clutches of just 30 to approximately 100 eggs. Nest sites are in cavities beneath slabs of rock. Eggs take about 8 days to hatch, and the young are guarded by the male for approximately 2 weeks. (Page and Burr, 2005; Etnier and Etnier, 2001; Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Breeding interval
    Noturus flavipinnis males spawn once per season, but females may spawn twice per season.
  • Breeding season
    Noturus flavipinnis spawn from late May to mid July.
  • Range number of offspring
    30 to 278
  • Average number of offspring
    89
  • Average number of offspring
    65
    AnAge
  • Average time to hatching
    8 days
  • Average time to independence
    2 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Female yellowfin madtoms expend the majority of their reproductive effort in producing eggs. Males prepare nest sites by enlarging natural cavities beneath rock slabs, and then guard the eggs and young for approximately 2 weeks, driving away intruders and keeping the nest free of silt. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Parental Investment
  • male parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • male

Lifespan/Longevity

Noturus flavipinnis has a typical lifespan of 3-4 years; the maximum reported age is 4 years. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    4 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    3 to 4 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    3 to 4 years

Behavior

Noturus flavipinnis is not a territorial fish year-round, but males guard eggs and larvae during the breeding season. Noturus flavipinnis young seem to prefer smaller substrates such as sand or gravel, rather than the cobble, slab and bedrocks that the adults favor. This species is nocturnal and feeds mostly at night, remaining hidden under cover of rocks, sunken leaves, and brush during the day. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Home Range

Noturus flavipinnis is a sedentary fish. Individuals tend live in certain pools and rarely move to others. (Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Communication and Perception

Yellowfin madtoms are capable of vision and hearing, but probably rely most heavily on touch and chemoreception. The barbels on the face are specialized for these senses, and are probably adaptations to a nocturnal and secretive lifestyle. (Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Food Habits

Feeding by Noturus flavipinnis takes place mainly at night. It may, however, sometimes feed during the day. Its diet consists mostly of aquatic insect larvae, but crayfish may also be eaten. This species may exhibit some preferences in diet, but it is also an opportunistic feeder. It is also known to be a benthic feeder. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • aquatic crustaceans

Predation

Little is known about the interspecies relationships of yellowfin madtoms. Their specific predators are not known. They do, however exibit cryptic coloring and hiding behavior, which are common predator avoidance strategies. (Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Yellowfin madtoms are benthic secondary consumers. They feed on primary consumers and provide prey for larger carnivores. They may have some effects on the bottom substrate within their home pools, although these are not well known.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Yellowfin madtoms are not economically important.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

As Noturus flavipinnis is a federally listed species, some local businesses or industries may be impacted by conservation laws. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996)

Conservation Status

Noturus flavipinnis is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list, and as threatened on the United States Endangered Species Act list. (Etnier and Starnes, 1993; Page and Burr, 2005; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996; USGS - Florida Integrated Science Center, 2005; Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996)

Contributors

Kari Mahaffey (author), Eastern Kentucky University, Sherry Harrel (editor, instructor), Eastern Kentucky University.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

benthic

Referring to an animal that lives on or near the bottom of a body of water. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones. Bottom habitats in the very deepest oceans (below 9000 m) are sometimes referred to as the abyssal zone. see also oceanic vent.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

freshwater

mainly lives in water that is not salty.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

natatorial

specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

polyandrous

Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

threatened

The term is used in the 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Endangered (E), Vulnerable (V), Rare (R), Indeterminate (I), or Insufficiently Known (K) and in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU).

vibrations

movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Etnier, D., E. Etnier. 2001. "Yellowfin madtom" (On-line). Discover Life in America: Great Smoky Mountains National Park All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. Accessed September 17, 2006 at http://www.dlia.org/atbi/species/animals/vertebrates/fish/Ictaluridae/N_flavipinnis.shtml.

Etnier, D., W. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.

Page, L., B. Burr. 2005. "Noturus flavipinnis: Yellowfin madtom" (On-line). Fishbase. Accessed October 31, 2005 at http://www.fishbase.com/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3032&genusname=Noturus&speciesname=flavipinnis.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1996. "Yellowfin Madtom" (On-line). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program. Accessed October 30, 2005 at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/i/e/sae1b.html.

USGS - Florida Integrated Science Center, 2005. "Biographies of Southeastern Freshwater Fishes" (On-line). USGS - Florida Integrated Science Center. Accessed October 30, 2005 at http://cars.er.usgs.gov/Southeastern_Aquatic_Fauna/Freshwater_Fishes/Fish_Biographies_1/fish_biographies_1.html.

Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange, 1996. "Madtom and Yellowfin" (On-line). Endangered Species Information System. Accessed October 31, 2005 at http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/esis/lists/e254002.htm.