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Cape Fear Shiner Conservation & Research

photo of Cape Fear Shiner observation

Melissa Barr observes behaviors of the fish. Very little is known about the Natural history of the Cape Fear Shiner. Historically it did not have very large populations.
photo: N.C. Zoo

In June of 1998 the zoo was awarded a $16,000.00 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to begin a captive breeding program for the Cape Fear Shiner.

N.C. Zoo staff, led by Curator of Amphibians/Reptiles John Groves, are studying the life history of a captive population since no large enough population exists in the wild.

"Very little is known about the Natural history of the Cape Fear Shiner. It is belived that historically it did not have very large populations. The Cape Fear Shiner is consider endangered now. Our goal is to try to reproduce the animal and learn about the natural history of this fish in captivity. The study focuses on feeding behaviors and reproductive behaviors." said Groves.

The food and growth studies have lasted for four years.  Eggs were hatched and the young were reared in three tanks.  One tank were fed animal protein, the second plant material and the third a combination of animal and plant food.  Fish were measured weekly to determine their growth rates which indicated which type of food they preferred.  Additionally, museum specimens of Cape Fear shiners were dissected to determine what food material was in their stomachs.  The results of the musem study and the feeding trials at the zoo strongly suggest that this species feeds on a variety of animal and plant foods.  Historically, this species was suggested to be a plant eater beacuse of the type of alimentary tract that they have.

Groves continued, "The long term goal is to make certain that the population is stable in the wild and that there is a genetic reservoir of the fish in captivity."

Other Research and Activities

Cape Fear

Feeding trials at the zoo strongly suggest that this species feeds on a variety of animal and plant foods.
photo: Tom Gillespie

As part of the food, feeding behavior and growth studies of this fish, we dissected several skulls of Cape Fear Shiners to study their teeth. Like all Cyprinid fishes, the Cape Fear shiners only have pharyngeal teeth. The pharyngeal teeth of this species are similar to some other omnivorous species of shiners.


Thanks to:

This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department in co-operation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Related Information

N.C. Fish & Wildlife Commission - Cape Fear Shiner

U.S. Fish & Wildlife "Cape Fear Shiners in North Carolina"

U.S. Fish & Wildlife species profile

This article was complied from information provided by John Groves the N.C. Zoo's Curator of Amphibians/Reptiles and N.C. Zoo staff.

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