Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in pond waters of varying salinity.
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Known only from the lowermost Florida Keys, Monroe County. It may have had a somewhat more extensive range in the past, but there is no definite evidence to support this claim (Gilbert 1978).

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Western Atlantic: lower Florida Keys in USA.
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Western North Atlantic: Florida Keys.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Analsoft rays: 12 - 15
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Size

Maximum size: 50 mm TL
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Max. size

5.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251))
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Type Information

Paratype for Menidia conchorum Hildebrand & Ginsburg
Catalog Number: USNM 170968
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): I. Ginsburg, Filer & Stevenson
Year Collected: 1922
Locality: Florida, Key West, Biological Station., Monroe County, Florida, United States, Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, North America, Atlantic
  • Paratype: Hildebrand, S. F. & Ginsburg, I. 1926. Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries. 42: 207.
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Paratype for Menidia conchorum Hildebrand & Ginsburg
Catalog Number: USNM 170967
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): W. Schroeder & S. Hildebrand
Year Collected: 1919
Locality: Florida., Key West, Biological Stn., Monroe County, Florida, United States, Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic
  • Paratype: Hildebrand, S. F. & Ginsburg, I. 1926. Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries. 42: 207.
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Paratype for Menidia conchorum Hildebrand & Ginsburg
Catalog Number: USNM 170969
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): F. + S.
Year Collected: 1922
Locality: Florida., Key West, Front of Biological Station, Monroe County, Florida, United States, Florida Keys, North America
  • Paratype: Hildebrand, S. F. & Ginsburg, I. 1926. Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries. 42: 207.
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Type for Menidia conchorum Hildebrand & Ginsburg
Catalog Number: USNM 87535
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1919
Locality: Boca Chica Key West Florida., Monroe County, Florida, United States, Florida Keys, Atlantic
  • Type: Hildebrand, S. F. & Ginsburg, I. 1926. Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries. 42: 207.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

Comments: Tidal creek, lagoon, and pond habitats of varying salinity in the lower Florida Keys from Long Key to Key West (Robins et al. 1986, Gilbert 1992, Getter 1981). Associated with loose coralline remains on the bottom and organic debris/mats along shore (Gilbert 1978, 1992, Getter 1981).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Occurs in ponds of varying salinity.

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

pelagic-neritic; brackish; marine
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: Getter (1981) described 20 populations that were distributed among ponds and lagoons from Grassy Key to Key West, Florida. The population from Key West has reportedly disappeared (Gilbert 1992). This species has been found at only a few localities (in 1927, 1941, 1965, 1966, 1970, and 1974-1976), of which one (the site of the 1966 and 1970 collections on Big Pine Key) has now been filled in for a housing development, and another (also on Big Pine Key) has been eliminated as a result of the introduction of predatory centrarchid fishes. Intensive collections around Key West indicate that the species is no longer present (Gilbert 1978), although it was once prevalent in the area (Hildebrand and Ginsburg 1927). Populations have been found on Big Pine and Cudjoe Keys (Getter 1981).

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: Exact number of individuals unknown, but thought to be many. There are presently a total of 17 cataloged lots totaling 418 specimens in the Florida Museum of Natural History collected in the 1980s at locations on Big Pine, Rockland, Grassy, and Long keys (Duggins 1986, Gilbert 1992). Sightings reached a seasonal low during summer and early fall (0-5% of total observations) and peaked in the winter and spring (10-18% of total observations). Juveniles were observed throughout the year (Getter 1981). At times the species appears to be abundant but its numbers may fluctuate drastically from zero to many throughout a season (Getter 1981).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Restricted range in the lowermost Florida Keys; continued destruction of occurrences for development.

Other Considerations: The debate as to whether MENIDIA CONCHORUM should be considered a distinct species does not undermine the fact that it represents a distinct and geographically isolated taxonomic unit (Gilbert 1992).

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LR/nt
Lower Risk/near threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Rare
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: This species is probably not as rare as previously thought due to its elusiveness and difficulty of collecting and surveying its habitat (Gilbert 1992). It has been downgraded by the State of Florida from an endangered species to a species of special concern (Gilbert 1992).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: The major threats are filling of habitat for housing, introduced predatory fishes, and hypersaline conditions from impoundment. Most populations are in habitats that have been altered by humans. Activities by humans encroach on 65 percent of known populations (Getter 1981).

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Lower Risk: near threatened (LR/nt)
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Management

Biological Research Needs: Need to conduct more monitoring programs to document whether populations are declining and to determine habitat use (Getter 1981, Gilbert 1992).

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Protected occurrences exist on the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, and Long Key State Recreational Area. The management plans of these refuges may likely ignore this species.

Needs: There is an urgent need to protect occupied habitat.

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Wikipedia

Key silverside

The key silverside (Menidia conchorum) is a species of fish in the Atherinidae family. It is endemic to the United States.

The key silverside is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern. Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Contents

Species Description

Key silverside has a restricted distribution and is only found in the Florida Keys, from Key West north to Long Key. The key silverside is the smallest known species of Menidia; its maximum size is about 2 inches (53 mm).

Conservation

Habitat destruction for development has reduced available habitats through loss of a number of ponds and formerly occupied sites (Loftus et al. 2002) and black mangrove habitats.

Conservation Designations

IUCN[1]: Near Threatened

American Fisheries Society: Vulnerable

Species of Greatest Conservation Need: FL

Status Reviews

Some recent work on the species has been undertaken by Dr. David Conover (SUNY Stony Brook) and associates.

References

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: May be only a subspecies of the tidewater silverside Menidia peninsulae (Robins et al. 1986). Menidia conchorum is electrophoretically indistinguishable from Menidia peninsulae. However, it is morphologically more similar to Menidia beryllina. Menidia beryllina is geographically closer to populations in Key Largo, whereas the closest populations of Menidia peninsulae occur in the Sebastian Inlet on the lower east coast of Florida and Marco Island on the west coast of Florida (Gilbert 1992, O'Connell and Poss 1998). Menidia conchorum was classified as conspecific with Menidia peninsulae because the electrophoretic data were considered more reliable than meristic data, due to environmental influences on the meristic characteristics (Duggins et al. 1986).

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