New York Natural Heritage Program
Northern Sunfish
Lepomis peltastes Cope, 1870
Ray-finned Fishes

Conservation Overview [-]
Northern sunfish are threatened by poor land use practices that reduce water quality through runoff, pollution, and siltation. Invasive fish are also a problem for them. The existing population would benefit from continued monitoring. Repeat surveys of locations where they had been previously documented are needed.

Threats [-]
Northern sunfish are threatened by siltation caused by runoff from agriculture and other land use activities that may disturb the soil layer and lead to erosion. Intensive agricultural practices, for instance, may lead to high silt loading, nitrification, and variable water flows (Wells and Haynes 2007). Land development and agriculture may also result in reduced water quality from pollution and runoff. Invasive species are also a primary threat. The introduced round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is a known nest predator of northern sunfish and the spread of a native competitor, the green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), as well as competition for spawning habitat with other more abundant Lepomis species may be problematic as well. Hybridization with bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is likely a major threat to the perpetuation of the northern sunfish (Sanderson 2015). A study of the last remaining native population in the state captured eight hybrids and no pure northern sunfish (Sanderson 2015). The small remaining population in New York state likely has difficulty finding mates and the females, which resemble bluegills, may be accepted as mates by the male bluegills (Sanderson 2015). 

Research Needs [-]
Previously occurring locations such as Johnson Creek and Oak Orchard Creek should be resurveyed and the population in Tonawanda Creek should be monitored by periodic surveys to gain data on short-term trends.