Noturus stigmosus
Northern madtom
Image of Noturus stigmosus

Photo by Amy Derosier 

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Key Characteristics

The northern madtom is a stocky fish with four broken dark saddle bands, the last of which is at the base of the adipose fin. However the dark par does not extent to the distal margin of the adipose fin. The dorsal fin has a brownish or dusk bar but no jet-black blotch. There are a pair of light spots just anterior to the base of the dorsal fin.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G3


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair31995
Distribution map for Noturus stigmosus

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


The northern madtom occurs in large rivers in Michigan. It has also been found in Lake St. Clair. It prefers strong currents with sand, gravel, or rocky substrates. This species is somewhat tolerant of turbidity, but avoids heavily silted areas.

Specific Habitat Needs

Rocky substrates needed in Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Riffle, River (5th-6th order), Riffle, Inland Lake, Littoral, Benthic, Inland Lake, Pelagic, Benthic

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


The sporadic range and small populations of the northern madtom suggest that this species is sensitive to habitat disturbance and has very specific ecological requirements. Little is known about the specific habitat requirement of this species; however increased turbidity, siltation, and flow alterations are likely threats. As such, it is important to preserve the natural state of river where this species occurs. Maintenance or establishment of natural flows and vegetated riparian buffers will likely aid in protecting this species habitats.

Active Period

Spawning from fourth week of June to third week of August

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 22, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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