Percina copelandi
Channel darter

Key Characteristics

The channel darter is an elongate, slender darter with light olive to sand coloration and 10 to 15 small blotches along the midline on each side. This darter is distinguished from other darters by the enlarged scales between the base of the pelvic fins. In addition, the channel darter has two anal spines.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G4


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair31996
Distribution map for Percina copelandi

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 channel darter inhabits rivers and large creeks in areas of moderate current over sand and gravel substrates. It also occurs in wave swept nearshore areas of lakes Huron and Erie in coarse-sand, fine-gravel beach and sandbar habitats.

Specific Habitat Needs

Sand and gravel needed in Inland Lake, Littoral, Benthic Sand and gravel substrates needed in Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Riffle, Mainstem Stream (3rd-4th order), Pool, River (5th-6th order), Riffle, River (5th-6th order), Pool

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 range of the channel darter in Michigan has been drastically reduced over the past century. Much of the decline can be linked to habitat loss, heavy siltation, and other pollutants. Sound land use practices, such as the maintenance or establishment of riparian vegetation is important for the protection of this species habitats.

Active Period

Spawning from first week of July to fourth week of July

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 17, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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