Roanoke Logperch

Illustration by Duane Raver 
(Enlarge image)

Scientific Name: Percina rex

Classification: Federally Endangered, State Endangered

Abundance: Extremely rare (found only in brown area)



Roanoke logperch (Photo by Chris Wood/NCWRC)

Roanoke logperch (Photo by NCWRC)

Additional Information

The Roanoke logperch is a large darter, growing to a maximum length of 165 mm.  The lateral portions of the fish are covered with vertically elongate blotches (8-11) and dark vermiculations are interspersed between dorsal saddles.  Snout is elongate and conical.  Fins are strongly speckled and the first dorsal fin contains an orange band, particularly vivid in males. 

Distribution by County: Roanoke River Basin: Rockingham Co. (Dan River, Mayo River, Smith River, and Big Beaver Island Creek) and potentially portions of the Dan River and tributaries within Stokes, Caswell, and Forsyth Counties. NOTE: All headwater areas that flow into these occupied habitats should receive special management. Roanoke logperch range map.

Adult Roanoke logperch typically inhabit medium to large sized, warm, clear streams and occupy riffles, runs, and pools containing sand, gravel, or boulder.  Young-of-year congregate in mixed-species schools in shallow, margin habitat underlain by sand and gravel.  Roanoke logperch utilize their snout to overturn gravel to forage on benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Dams and their associated reservoirs are major threats to this species. The reservoirs eliminate preferred habitats of the Roanoke logperch, and they fragment populations, thus increasing the chances for local extirpations. 

Spawning occurs during April-May in deep runs underlain by gravel.  As with other Percina species, larval drift probably represents an essential dispersal and recolonization mechanism.  This species matures at 2-3 years old and have a lifespan of approximately 6.5 years. 

The Roanoke logperch is an imperiled darter species endemic (found nowhere else in the world) to the Chowan River basin in Virginia and Roanoke River basin within North Carolina and Virginia. Populations are currently limited by dams restricting movement and degraded water quality impacting survival and health. It is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. No Roanoke logperch can be collected or killed without a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. 

Prior to 2007, Roanoke logperch were not known to occur within North Carolina.  In 2008, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission completed a status survey for Roanoke logperch and associated fishes within the Dan River watershed.  In addition, WRC is continuing to survey additional locations within the Dan River watershed to define the current distribution of Roanoke logperch within North Carolina.