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Troglomorphic sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group in Perry County, Missouri: distribution, external morphology, and conservation statusAuthor(s): Brooks M. Burr; Ginny L. Adams; Jean K. Krejca; Regina J. Paul; Melvin L. Warren
Source: Environmental Biology of Fishes. 62: 279-296. [Editor's note: Southern Research Station scientist Melvin L. Warren, Jr. co-authored this publication.]
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionThe existence of cavernicolous sculpin (here allocated to Cottus carolinae, banded sculpin, and referred to as grotto sculpin), in the karst regions of Perry County, MO, first came to our attention in 1991. Examination of 35 caves in Missouri, 96 in Illinois, 17 in Tennessee, 2 in Indiana, and 11 in Arkansas revealed that banded sculpin are common in cave habitats; however, grotto sculpin are limited to two karst areas of Perry County, MO, where they are known from only six cave systems. These caves and their streams are extensive and apparently provide a unique habitat compared to other karst systems; this may be a critical factor in the present restricted distribution of the grotto sculpin. Grotto sculpin occupy pools and riffles of cave streams, and occur over a variety of substrates, from sediment to breakdown. Density estimates in Mystery and Running Bull caves were 0.29 and 0.63 individuals m-2, respectively. Grotto sculpin have small eyes (1-6 percent SL vs. 6-10 percent SL in epigean samples), significantly reduced pigmentation (including nearly complete loss of dorsal saddles), a reduction in pelvic fin ray number (from 4 + 4 elements to often 4 + 3, or 3 + 3), and enlarged cephalic lateralis pores (e.g., mandibular pores of cavernicolous samples are 2-3 times those of epigean stream samples). Multivariate analyses of body shape revealed statistically significant separation of epigean and hypogean samples, with eye size highly variable, but smallest in the Running Bull Cave population. We interpret these results as representative of losses associated with long-term cave habitation. Caves of Perry County provide ample habitat for grotto sculpin, but because the caves are located downgradient of the city of Perryville and an intensively farmed landscape, point and non-point source pollution threaten their continued existence. Escape of farm-pond fishes through the extensive sinkhole network in Perry County has increased potential predation pressure on grotto sculpin by channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, and other species normally excluded from cave environments.
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CitationBurr, Brooks M.; Adams, Ginny L.; Krejca, Jean K.; Paul, Regina J.; Warren, Melvin L., Jr. 2001. Troglomorphic sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group in Perry County, Missouri: distribution, external morphology, and conservation status. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 62: 279-296. [Editor''s note: Southern Research Station scientist Melvin L. Warren, Jr. co-authored this publication.]
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