In 1932, the Tuckasegee Darter was originally described as Poecilichthys gutselli, from the Tuckasegee River (Little Tennessee River system), North Carolina. In 1968, Miller, citing perceived areas of intergradation, relegated it to a subspecies of Etheostoma blennioides. Recent authors, however, re-elevated E. gutselli to the species level without providing any supporting data. We present morphological, meristic, and nuptial male pigmentation data that support the distinctiveness of E. gutselli. Etheostoma gutselli can be distinguished from proximal populations E. blennioides newmanii in the Tennessee River system by lower lateral-line (49–63 vs. 63–81) and caudal-peduncle (18–24 vs. 23–29) scale counts and differences in nuptial male pigmentation. Etheostoma gutselli primarily is restricted to the upper (Blue Ridge) portions of the Little Tennessee and Pigeon river drainages, generally upstream of the Tennessee-North Carolina state line.
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Vol. 105 • No. 3