ESR 36:99-109 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00897

Stability, persistence and habitat associations of the pearl darter Percina aurora in the Pascagoula River System, southeastern USA

Scott R. Clark1,4,*, William T. Slack2, Brian R. Kreiser1, Jacob F. Schaefer1, Mark A. Dugo3

1Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406, USA
2US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory EEA, Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180, USA
3Mississippi Valley State University, Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, Itta Bena, Mississippi 38941, USA
4Present address: Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The southeastern United States represents one of the richest collections of aquatic biodiversity worldwide; however, many of these taxa are under an increasing threat of imperilment, local extirpation, or extinction. The pearl darter Percina aurora is a small-bodied freshwater fish endemic to the Pearl and Pascagoula river systems of Mississippi and Louisiana (USA). The last collected specimen from the Pearl River drainage was taken in 1973, and it now appears that populations in this system are likely extirpated. This reduced the historical range of this species by approximately 50%, ultimately resulting in federal protection under the US Endangered Species Act in 2017. To better understand the current distribution and general biology of extant populations, we analyzed data collected from a series of surveys conducted in the Pascagoula River drainage from 2000 to 2016. Pearl darters were captured at relatively low abundance (2.4 ± 4.0 ind. per collection) from 57% of 308 collections. We identified strong relationships between local habitat variables and occurrence and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of pearl darters. Pearl darters were frequently encountered and in greater abundance in depositional areas characterized by low-velocity habitats and finer substrates. Patterns of occurrence and CPUE were spatiotemporally variable across years; however, repeated collections from a subset of localities collected across a decade or more indicated long-term persistence and stability, suggesting population resilience throughout the Pascagoula River drainage.


KEY WORDS: Pearl darter · Pascagoula River · Historical distribution · Habitat associations


Full text in pdf format 
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Clark SR, Slack WT, Kreiser BR, Schaefer JF, Dugo MA (2018) Stability, persistence and habitat associations of the pearl darter Percina aurora in the Pascagoula River System, southeastern USA. Endang Species Res 36:99-109. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00897

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -