US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in THE PRAIRIE NATURALIST 36(4): December 2004 Published by the North Dakota Natural Science Society.


The range of the northern redbelly dace (Phoxinus eos) is grouped into two regions in central North America (Stasiak 1980). In the northern Great Plains, the species is distributed throughout the upper Missouri River drainage in Montana and Canada (Brown 1971, Scott and Crossman 1973). In the Central Lowlands, the northern redbelly dace is distributed through northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, and the Great Lakes region (Hubbs and Cooper 1936, Eddy and Underhill 1976, Becker 1983). The present distribution of northern redbelly dace has shifted northward from a more southerly distribution during Pleistocene glaciation (Cross et al. 1986). Relict populations remain in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. In Colorado and Nebraska, northern redbelly dace has been recorded from the upper reaches of the tributaries draining into the South Platte and Platte rivers (Johnson 1942, Bestgen 1989, Haynes and Weekly 1992). Similarly, the species has been recorded from the upper reaches of the Knife River, Heart River, and Cannonball River drainages in western North Dakota and from Spring Creek and Clear Creek in central North Dakota (Reigh and Owen 1978, Stasiak 1980, NDGFD 1997, R. Sylvester, South Dakota State University, unpublished data). In South Dakota, the northern redbelly dace is found in the Big Sioux River and Minnesota River drainages, and relict populations are scattered through the western Great Plains. Relict populations in South Dakota include several creeks from the Niobrara River drainage, a creek from the White River drainage, and two small tributaries draining into the Missouri River from the east (Bailey and Allum 1962, Cunningham et al. 1995, Smith et al. 2003). A large distributional gap exists in the northern Great Plains between the Cannonball drainage in North Dakota and the White River drainage in South Dakota. No collections of northern redbelly dace have been reported from the Grand River, Moreau River, Cheyenne River, or Bad River drainages in South Dakota.