The Southeastern Fishes Council Technical Advisory Committee reviewed the diversity, distribution, and status of all native freshwater and diadromous fishes across 51 major drainage units of the southern United States. The southern United States supports more native fishes than any area of comparable size on the North American continent north of Mexico, but also has a high proportion of its fishes in need of conservation action. The review included 662 native freshwater and diadromous fishes and 24 marine fishes that are significant components of freshwater ecosystems. Of this total, 560 described, freshwater fish species are documented, and 49 undescribed species are included provisionally pending formal description. Described subspecies (86) are recognized within 43 species, 6 fishes have undescribed subspecies, and 9 others are recognized as complexes of undescribed taxa. Extinct, endangered, threatened, or vulnerable status is recognized for 28% (187 taxa) of southern freshwater and diadromous fishes. To date, 3 southern fishes are known to be extinct throughout their ranges, 2 are extirpated from the study region, and 2 others may be extinct. Of the extant southern fishes, 41 (6%) are regarded as endangered, 46 (7%) are regarded as threatened, and 101 (15%) are regarded as vulnerable. Five marine fishes that frequent fresh water are regarded as vulnerable. Our assessment represents a 75% increase in jeopardized southern fishes since 1989 and a 125% increase in 20 years. The trend for fishes in the southern United States is clear; jeopardized fishes are successively being moved from the vulnerable category to that of imminent threat of extinction.
US Forest Service; Oxford, MS