The Yellowfin Madtom was historically widespread throughout the upper Tennessee River drainage, but was presumed extinct at the time of its formal scientific description (Taylor 1969). The discovery of three extant, but geographically isolated, populations in the late 1970's and early 1980's resulted in its listing as a threatened species. At the time of listing, the existence of the Citico Creek population was unknown (Dinkins and Shute 1996).
The Citico Creek population was discovered in the early 1980s. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to try to reintroduce Yellowfin Madtoms along with Smoky Madtoms back into Abrams Creek (see account of the Citico Darter within this site for history of Abrams Creek). Yellowfin Madtoms along with Smoky Madtoms represented the first species propagated by CFI for a reintroduction project.
Yellowfin Madtoms (like all other known madtom species) deposit eggs under slabrocks where the male guards the eggs and eventually the early larvae. While CFI has spawned these and several other madtom species, more often, wild nests are collected from the stream and returned to our hatchery where they are reared for ultimate release.
We are currently working with three populations of Yellowfin Madtoms: Citico Creek, Powell River, and Copper Creek. These constitue three very different management units of the species, and may one day get elevated to separate species.
The fish propagated from Citico Creek stock are being used to restore extirpated populations in Abrams Creek and Tellico River. These efforts have been ongoing for more than 20 years in Abrams Creek. The species is doing well in some sections of Abrams Creek where we see consistent in-stream reproduction and recruitment of young. We have also observed reproduction and recruitment in the Tellico River.
Conservation Fisheries has been propagating Yellowfin Madtoms from the Powell River in Tennessee and Virginia. These fish are being used to try to reestablish some upstream populations (in the Powell) that were eliminated as a result of spills associated with coal mining in the region.
We have also been involved in monitoring the status of Yellowfin Madtoms in Copper Creek and extending its range to better habitat upstream of impacts. Copper Creek is a tributary of the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia. Impacts, primarily from agricultural run-off, have restricted the Yellowfin Madtoms in Copper Creek to the lower few miles of stream. These fish once occupied a much larger range in Copper Creek. The ultimate goal is to re-establish this rare catfish into some of their previously occupied habitats. To date, several reintroductions have been made, but it is too early to try to measure success.