endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range includes the North American Coastal Plain from the Waccamaw River drainage, South Carolina, to southern Florida, west to the Trinity River drainage, eastern Texas; Former Mississippi Embayment north to Kentucky and Missouri; east of the Mississippi River, this species occurs mostly on the lower Coastal Plain (Page and Burr 2011). Also occurs in North Carolina (Wayne Starnes, pers. comm., 2006).
- Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr 1991 A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p. (Ref. 5723)
Length: 6 cm
Differs from banded topminnow in having gold flecks on the sides, larger eyes, and a more posteriorly located dorsal fin; also, when present, vertical bars along side are fewer in number (8-11 vs. 12-15) and are restricted to large males rather than being present in both males and females. Differs from plains topminnow in lacking dark cross-hatching on blue-green back and upper side, and in having fewer dorsal rays (7-9 vs. 9-11), fewer anal rays (9-11 vs. 12-15), and fewer lateral scales (30-34 vs. 33-37); plains topminnow does not have dark bars on the sides or red spots on the body and fins. See Page and Burr (1991).
Catalog Number: USNM 120410
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): D. Holbrook
Locality: Charleston, S.C.
- Syntype: Gunther, A. Catalogue of fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum. 6: 317.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Comments: Habitat includes swamps, sloughs, backwaters, and pools of ditches and slow-moving creeks and small to medium rivers; these topminnows usually are associated with heavy submergent aquatic vegetation (Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011); occasionally they occurs in brackish water along the coast.
Habitat and Ecology
Depth range (m): 0.75 - 0.75
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
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.
Comments: Eats mainly insects and other aquatic invertebrates near or at the surface.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations).
Life History and Behavior
Eggs are laid a few at a time over a period of a week or more.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Fundulus chrysotus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Fundulus chrysotus
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Secure in large range, primarily in southeastern U.S.; common in Florida, uncomon and localized elsewhere.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable.
Common in Florida, uncommon elsewhere (Page and Burr 2011.
Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable.
- IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
Comments: No major threats are known.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) is a fish of the genus Fundulus and is a United States native fish mostly distributed throughout the southeast; ranging from Kentucky and Ohio south into Florida. Although it has such a wide distribution throughout the south, the habitats and micro-habitats that it occupies do not differ much from one area of distribution to others. The golden topminow is a small surface feeding fish that tends to reproduce late in the spring season and on into the early parts of the summer, and although the fry reach maturity fairly quickly the longevity of the golden topminow is quite short. Because the golden topminow is lower in the trophic level and is a small fish, it primarily feeds on small and/or drifting organisms at, or near the surface of, vegetated areas. This particular topminnow is not currently listed as an endangered species, nor does it have any particular type of management plan.
As stated above, the golden topminow is geographically distributed throughout the southeastern portion of the continental U.S. Specifically, the golden topminow inhabits the Santee River Drainage of South Carolina west to the Trinity River Drainage of Texas. It can also be found throughout the Mississippi Embayment north to Kentucky, and Missouri. Further south, the golden topminow inhabits the Lower Coastal Plain and is commonly scattered throughout Florida. It has even been documented stretching its distribution northwest, extending into the Gulf Coastal Plain in McCurtain County Oklahoma and Mississippi County Missouri Outside of these areas, the golden topminow is extremely localized and uncommon.
The golden topminow's diet ranges from aquatic plants to terrestrial invertebrates but consists mostly of aquatic invertebrates. Food habits were studied among many different species of fish throughout Lake Seminole, Florida-Georgia, including the food habits of the golden topminnow. The golden topminow was observed feeding on small proportions of Macrophytes (aquatic vegetation) and a much wider array of aquatic invertebrates, including Gastropoda (snails/slugs), large quantities of Ostracoda (seed shrimp), Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Coleoptera (water-beetles), and Chironomidae (non-biting midge flies). Although the golden topminow's diet does not include vertebrate prey, the most common food sources are seed shrimp and midge larvae with water beetles and mayflies as minor contributors to its diet. Because of its trophic level position, the golden topminow also has a wide array of predators that feed on smaller, surface feeding vertebrates. These include, but are not limited to the largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, the redear sunfish, Lepomis microlophus, the bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus, and the Bluespotted sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus.
Because the golden topminow is found inhabiting brackish water, it has an interesting tolerance to different salinity levels. When observed in 7 and 14 percent salinity, the golden topminow has a 100 percent mean survival rate; where as at 21 percent salinity the rate decreases to 91 percent survival, at 28 percent salinity the mean survival rate decreases to 24 percent, and at 35 percent salinity the mean survival rate drops to 0 percent. The salinity tolerances described above account for the golden topminow's native range throughout coastal waters and brackish waters, allowing for survival and reproduction in a narrow range of salinities. Negative human influences do not specifically harm this particular species, but many aquatic, vertebrate organisms. Some major influences include habitat pollution and the utilization of marsh lands and brackish waters by humans for agricultural purposes.
The golden topminow breeds throughout the spring and on into the summer months from April to July, and sometimes as late as September. During courtship the male swims in loops or circles above or beside the female, sometimes pausing to bob his head up and down. Eggs are released individually and deposited on the roots of floating plants or on other fibrous material by the female, where afterwards they are fertilized one at a time by the male. After hatching the larvae rest on leaves or on the bottom and begin to grow quickly reaching maturation after 10 months. At maturation, the golden topminow becomes slender with a rounded caudal fin and a deep caudal peduncle. The mouth is small and slightly superior and the dorsal fin is set far back on the body and begins posterior to the anal fin origin. A lateral line is absent with 7-9 dorsal rays, 9-11 anal rays, 12-14 pectoral rays and 6 pelvic rays. During the breeding season, males develop prickly contact organs on the side of the body between the dorsal and anal fins, and on the ends of the last few dorsal rays, anal fin, and outermost rays of the pectoral fin. The life expectancy of the golden topminow is around 2 years.
Conservation and management
There is no current management plan specifically designed for the golden topminow due to the fact that it is not listed as an endangered or threatened species.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fundulus chrysotus.|
- Burr, Brooks M., Lawrence M. Page. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes: North America North of Mexico. 219-220.
- Secor, Stephen M,. 1987. The Golden Topminnow, Fundulus chrysotus (Cyrpinodontidae), an Addition to the Fish Fauna of Oklahoma. The Southwestern Naturalist 38:522-525.
- Etnier, David A., Wayne C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. 363.
- Killgore, Jack K. 1991. Habitat Value of Aquatic Plants For Fishes. Environmental Laboratory Department of the Army Waterways Experiment Station, Corps of Engineers, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180-6 and University of Maryland Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies.
- Peterson, Crego. 1997. Salinity Tolerance of Four Ecologically Distinct Species of Fundulus (Pisces: Fundulidae) From the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium of Alabama, pp. 45–49.
- Ross et al., 2001.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Often has been confused with F. cingulatus (Lee et al. 1980). Allozyme data indicate that Fundulus chrysotus is the sister to the "F. cingulatus "-F. luciae clade (Cashner et al. 1992). The genus Fundulus was removed from Atheriniformes:Cyprinodontidae and placed in Cyprinodontiformes:Fundulidae by Parenti (1981); pending confirmation based on other character suites, this change was not accepted in the 1991 AFS checklist (Robins et al. 1991). See Wiley (1986) for a study of the evolutionary relationships of Fundulus topminnows based on morphological characters. See Cashner et al. (1992) for an allozyme-based phylogenetic analysis of the genus Fundulus.