Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes
1996 Report of Region 2 - Southeast
Conservation and Research Activities:
South Carolina-Gary Meffe, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, has just completed a book manuscript for the Department of Defense entitled "Conserving Biodiversity on Military Lands." As difficult as it is to imagine the DOD being "green," in the past five years the DOD (in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Department of Interior agencies, and academia), has demonstrated a serious commitment to inventory, monitoring, and conservation of biodiversity on military reservations. With a few exceptions, however, much of the emphasis has been on terrestrial components of ecosystems. Gary also noted that he has been teaching ecosystem management courses to U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel.
Georgia-Steve Vives, Georgia Southern University, is one of the relatively few researchers to receive funding to work on fishes on a military reservation. He is completing a fish survey of Fort Stewart Military Reservation in southeastern Georgia. Fort Stewart is located on the Coastal Plain in the Ogeechee River drainage. To date, Steve and his students have recorded 55 fish species but has been unable to discover any populations of the illusive and patchily-distributed Enneacanthus chaetodon.
The eclectic robust redhorse research group (Jimmy Evans and Les Ager from Georgia DNR, Bud Freeman and Cecil Jennings plus students from University of Georgia, and Bob Jenkins from Roanoke College) had a successful year in 1995 observing the reproductive behavior and habitat of this great river beast, and were again able to successfully strip adults and rear young for reintroduction into formerly occupied rivers. The artificial propagation efforts again will be repeated in May 1996. Papers on the robust redhorse dominated the first day of meetings of the Georgia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, surely a first for anything ending in "ucker" to beat out anything ending in "ass" or "out." The discovery of the robust redhorse has lifted Bob Jenkins to a new level of sucker euphoria, not seen since those halcyon days at Cornell. Bud Freeman is collaborating with Bob on much of the sucker research and now Bud imagines to identify small Moxostoma in the field.
Mary Freeman, recently transferred to a National Biological Service lab at the University of Georgia, is hoping to garner that illusive block of time needed to finish the description of the Halloween darter, an Apalachicola endemic cryptic to Percina nigrofaciata. Mary and Bud have discovered yet another nigrofaciata -look-alike in the upper Chattahoochee River system. Mary has a manuscript in press with a former masters student, Lane Hill, an Auburn graduate, on the life history of the Halloween darter. For the past four years, Mary and Ph.D. student Zachary Bowen, have been studying fish communities in the regulated reaches of the Tallapoosa River and in the unregulated river above Harris Dam. One of the most interesting preliminary results is that sustained periods of low flow appear to be very important for recruitment of certain species. If this tentative observation bears out, it has portentous implications for management of regulated river reaches.
A citizens environmental group, the Coosa River Basin Initiative, based in Rome, Georgia, was instrumental in temporarily blocking an interbasin transfer of treated sewage water from the upper Chattahoochee River to the upper Etowah River. The Etowah River has been selected by the national conservation group American Rivers, Inc. as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the United States. Perhaps this dubious notoriety will assist in attracting much needed funding for conservation research on the Etowah River.
Florida-Carter Gilbert, University of Florida, swears that he and Jim Williams, Southeastern Biological Science Center, Gainesville, are making progress on the fishes of Florida book. Carter also swears that his keep-you-riveted-to-your-chair type catalog manuscript is 95% complete. Realizing the golden years are now enfolding him, Carter has opted to form partnerships with "stakeholders" (a new word in federal lexicon) and has asked Rick Mayden, University of Alabama, to co-author the descriptions of the Macrhybopsis aestivalis species group.
It has been a difficult year for the folks at the Southeastern Biological Science Center (SBSC), National Biological Service, and soon to become part of the U.S. Geological Survey. Despite timely layoffs (like Christmas) or the abrupt closing of programs and loss of personnel (e.g., cancellation of Steve Walsh's Global Climate Change program), nonessential research by nonessential personnel has continued at a steady pace. Steve has a manuscript in press, with Dennis Haney and Cindy Timmerman, entitled "Variation in thermal tolerance and routine metabolism among spring and stream-inhabiting freshwater sculpins (Teleostei: Cottidae) of the southeastern United States." Jim Williams swears that he and George Burgess, University of Florida, are going to finish the description of the shoal bass before the ASIH meetings in New Orleans. (I think bald guys swear too much). Leo Nico and Rob Robins of the Nonindigenous Species Section (SBSC), along with Jim Williams, are conducting a survey of the aquatic fauna of Avon Park, an Air Force bombing range in south central Florida. Jim, Leo, plus Pam Fuller and Charles Boydston, have labored on a large manuscript on the nonindigenous fishes of the United States; it may be out by early fall 1996. Leo and Steve have a manuscript in Florida Scientist on a record of a new population of the catfish Hoplosternum littorale (Callichthyidae) from Florida. Noel Burkhead, Steve Walsh, and Bob Dorazio (the biometrician who will tell us what it all means) have finally completed the matrix for an analyses of patterns of imperilment of southern Appalachian Fishes. Noel, Steve, and Bud Freeman are continuing to collect data on putative new forms of the Etheostoma brevirostrum species group. Howard Jelks recently completed a revised draft of the new recovery plan for Etheostoma okaloosae, a species that the Fish and Wildlife Service may push to have delisted.
Bruce Bauer, Dames & Moore, Inc. of Orlando, with Dave Etnier, University of Tennessee, and Noel Burkhead just published the description of Etheostoma scotti, a new snubnose darter from north Georgia. With the Presidential moratorium still in effect, Etheostoma scotti and Etheostoma (Nothonotus) etowahae were the last vertebrates to be placed on the federal endangered species list (as Threatened and Endangered, respectively); both are endemic to the Etowah River system. Incidentally, Bruce successfully underwent triple bypass surgery in March 1996 and I am sure the membership of SFC wishes him a full and speedy recovery.
Both Buck Snelson, University of Central Florida, and Walt Courtenay, Florida Atlantic University, both report they are presently inactive in freshwater, overworked, and must get all their research thrills vicariously from students.