Southeastern Fishes Council
Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes


1999 Report of Region 3 - North-Central
Status surveys and other interesting finds

John Fridell (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) reported that the Service will be proposing to elevate one fish and two mussels to candidate status. These include the Cumberland johnny darter (Etheostoma susanae), the slabside pearlymussel (Lexingtonia dolabelloides), and fluted kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus subtentum). At present, these species have no official federal status. The Cumberland johnny darter and slabside pearlymussel were formerly category 2 Candidates, which no longer exist; the fluted kidneyshell has never had federal candidate status. The current elevation package will recommend all three as "Candidates", equivalent to the former Category 1 candidate for federal protection. These were taxa for which enough information existed to list as endangered or threatened. The elevation package will be submitted to the Atlanta regional office of FWS in early March.

Ed Scott (TVA) reported snail darter (Percina tanasi) distribution and abundance is apparently keeping up with the continued improvement of the Douglas and Cherokee tailwaters in the lower French Broad and Holston rivers. In addition, snail darters, presumably from the Hiwassee River population, have also been found in the lower end of the Ocoee River. Charlie Saylor (TVA) has a few additions to the lower Pigeon River fish fauna that support the continued improvement of that area: Phenacobius crassilabrum and E. swannanoav. The E. swannanoa populations probably recruited from local tributaries. Also, in 1997, Nocomis micropogon and E. zonale (both present in the adjacent French Broad River) were new fish records for the Pigeon.

Brooks Burr (Southern Illinois University) reported finding five duskytail darter (E. percnurum) nests, in the Big South Fork in May 1998. This is the first time nesting has been observed in this population. Burr and students have also been surveying fishes in the Little South Fork, with particular emphasis on ecology of palezone shiner, Notropis albizonatus.

J. R. Shute, Pat Rakes, Bo Baxter (CFI), and Peggy Shute (TVA) surveyed the historical yellowfin madtom (Noturus flavipinnis) locality at Buchanan Ford on the Powell River in fall 1998, and uncovered three young-of-year madtoms. This is the first time the species has been reported from the Powell River since fall 1983, when one young of year yellowfin was also observed at Buchanan Ford.

Bernie Kuhajda (University of Alabama) reported that Rick Mayden's lab will be surveying caves with aquatic habitat in the area surrounding Key Cave (Tennessee River drainage) for new populations of Alabama cavefish, Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni.

Kevin Hamed, of Tennessee State Parks, reported a robust population of Tennessee dace (Phoxinus tennesseensis) in the Beaver Creek system (of the Holston) within Steele Creek Park. He and a local high school student are initiating a project to study this population in more detail.

Etnier's Regional Faunas class collected some additional species in the rip-rap areas with fast current in the Tennessee portion of the Mississippi River. These include: Elassoma zonatum, Gambusia affinis, Lepomis cyanellus, L. megalotis, and Percina sciera.

Scott Mettee, Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA), reported that GSA will be doing all of the level one fish bioassessments in the Alabama part of the Tennessee system in 1999 and 2000. A complete report on the fish of the Alabama section of the Tennessee River should be published by the GSA Fall 1999. The database for this report includes information from 1,188 samples collected at 761 stations between 1954 and 1998. GSA are also planning to release a new color poster on Alabama fishes in early March.

Exotic species

Steve Fraley (American Aquatics) and Charlie Saylor (TVA) reported a large adult grass carp (Ctenopharygodon idella) from Melton Hill Reservoir (Clinch system) in fall 1998, and that pumpkinseeds (Lepomis gibbosus) have moved downstream of Boone Reservoir (Holston system); they were collected in Horse Creek (South Fork Holston tributary in Sullivan Co., TN).

Al Brown (TVA) reported that blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) were documented in the upper reaches of Melton Hill reservoir (high numbers) by TVA reservoir sampling crews in Fall 1998. Reproducing populations are being tracked in both Chatuge and Nottely reservoirs and their tailwaters. Multi-age classes were sampled in Fall 1998 by biologists from Georgia Department of Natural Resources and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Division. Brown says we have little knowledge concerning the effect of this introduction on native fish populations, but the GDNR biologists suspect a negative impact on resident largemouth bass and yellow perch in Nottely. Bluebacks are considered riverine spawners but have apparently adapted to reservoir spawning conditions. They prefer cooler oxygenated refuge areas in the reservoirs but apparently do very well in dam tailwaters. At this point we have no idea, if, or how quickly they will distribute themselves further down the TVA system. State biologists have been alerted and, at this point, identification is the major problem. We intend to distribute lab specimens to district fishery biologists to help with this problem.

Gerry Dinkins (3D-Environmental) turned up a population of Gambusia holbrooki from the Holly Creek portion of the Conasauga system in northern Georgia.

Mussels

J.R. Shute and Pat Rakes (Conservation Fisheries, Inc.) found an apparently very old muskrat midden with 22 mussel taxa (identifications verified by Dr. Paul Parmalee and Steve Ahlstedt), several of which are now federally endangered and a few extinct. This find will help provide documentation of historical French Broad River mussel fauna, which is important for mussel reintroductions that are currently being considered for this river reach.

Steve Fraley (American Aquatics) and Steve Ahlstedt (USGS), were contracted by FWS to survey Copper Creek (Clinch River tributary) for mussels. Twenty sites within a 50 mile reach were surveyed. Nine of 19 mussel species collected in 1980 were not found in 1998, including the federally endangered oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis) and rough rabbit's foot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata). Densities of remaining mussel species (10) were low.

Fraley and Ahlstedt were contracted by TVA to survey Tellico River (Little Tennessee system) for mussels. Two sites in the Nar's Ford area were surveyed in 1998. Only four of 13 species collected in 1983-84 were found. Densities were very low (8 individuals compared to 1125 in 1983-84).

Ron Cicerello of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, reported that KSNPC has completed a study of freshwater mussels in the Green River from Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP) upstream to Green River Lake Dam under contract with FWS Asheville office. Thirty-four species were found alive and 10 others were found only as old shells. When combined wi