Noturus munitus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Siluriformes Ictaluridae

Scientific Name: Noturus munitus Suttkus & Taylor, 1965
Common Name(s):
English Frecklebelly Madtom
Taxonomic Source(s): Suttkus, R.D. and Taylor, W.R. 1965. Noturus munitus, a new species of madtom, family Ictaluridae, from southern United States. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 78: 169-178.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-07-31
Assessor(s): NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Ormes, M.
This species is listed as Vulnerable because its area of occupancy may be less than 2,000 sq km, number of locations can be regarded as not more than 10, and distribution, abundance, and habitat quantity and quality are subject to ongoing declines.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Range includes the Pearl River, eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi; Tombigbee River, eastern Mississippi and western Alabama; upper Alabama (probably extirpated) and Cahaba rivers, central Alabama; Etowah River, northern Georgia; Conasauga River, northern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee (Bennett et al. 2008, 2010; Page and Burr 2011). This species was probably formerly more widespread in the Mobile Bay drainage.

Current range: Pearl River drainage (Bogue Chitto River, lower Pearl River and tributaries); upper Tombigbee River drainage (East Fork, Buttahatchie River, lower Luxapallila Creek, Sipsey River; Alabama and Cahaba river drainages (lower Cahaba River); Etowah River system (upper Etowah River); Conasauga River system (middle Conasauaga River) (Bennett et al. 2010).
Countries occurrence:
United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:On a coarse level, this species currently is represented by nine patches of occupied habitat (see map in Bennett et al. 2010).

This madtom is very difficult to survey due to its small size, secretive nature, and nocturnal, benthic, and cryptic life style (P. Shute pers. comm. 1997), so available data may not reflect the full distribution and abundance of the species.

Although historically abundant, during a 1995–1996 survey only 239 individuals were collected from the upper Tombigbee, Alabama, and Cahaba river systems (Shephard et al. 1996). Pierson reported 18–25 occurrences in main channel of the Cahaba River (pers. comm. 1997).

This species was formerly fairly abundant in appropriate habitat throughout its range, with night-time collections on large-river gravel shoals before the late 1960s regularly producing large collections of specimens in the hundreds (Bennett et al. 2008). Now it has been extirpated from one of the drainages in which it was found (Alabama), has been greatly reduced in three other drainages (Pearl, upper Tombigbee, and upper Coosa), and occurs in high numbers drainage-wide in only one river (Cahaba) (Bennett et al. 2008). The upper Coosa River form is apparently in more rapid decline than other populations (Bennett et al. 2008).

Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but distribution and abundance probably are slowly declining. Three generations apparently span fewer than 10 years.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Primary habitat is rocky riffles, rapids, and runs, often near vegetation, in small to large rivers (Lee et al. 1980, Page and Burr 2011).
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This small fish's movements are impeded by dams and impoundments. The species disappeared abruptly from the Alabama River after construction of the Millers Ferry and Claiborne dams and associated navigational modifications of the river channel (Ramsey 1976). It is expected to disappear from the main channel of the upper Tombigbee because of the impoundment and canalization of the river by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, though hopefully it will survive in large tributaries (Boschung and Mayden 2004).

High levels of siltation within streambeds constitute poor habitats for the species (Shepard 1996).

Jelks et al. (2008) categorized the Cahaba population as vulnerable, Coosa population as endangered, Pearl population as vulnerable, and Tombigbee population as endangered, based on the present or threatened destruction, modification, or reduction of habitat or range, combined with a narrowly restricted range.

This species is regarded as very threatened; the greatest threat is probably siltation followed by habitat modifications due to impoundment, channelization (Shephard et al. 1996, P. Shute pers. comm. 1997), gravel removal operations, and altered flow regimes (Shephard et al. 1996). Populations in the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers have dwindled in recent years, primarily because of the construction and maintenance of inland waterways that have destroyed most of the permanent gravel bars (Mettee et al. 1996). Other threats include nonpoint source pollution related to activities such as silviculture, agriculture, and construction in the watersheds. Gravel removal and washing in the Buttahatchie River has degraded some habitat in that system, and channelization for flood control has drastically reduced the population in Luxapallila Creek due to loss of habitat and increased sediment loads (Shepard pers. comm. 1997).

Frecklebelly Darters are regarded by some as fairly resistant to non-destructive intrusion (S. Shively pers. comm. 1997), but others consider them fragile and susceptible to non-destructive intrusion (P. Shute pers. comm. 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: More precise information on habitat requirements is needed. The relationship between physical parameters such as water depth, current velocity, substrate particle size, and degree of sedimentation and the occurrence and abundance of this species should be explored. Spawning sites and requirements for successful recruitment should be identified.

Determine rangewide abundance in historic sites and other locations with apparently suitable habitat. Survey to determine current status of population in the Conasauga River.

The present state of the Tombigbee, Pearl, Cahaba, and Conasauga rivers should be preserved by stopping impoundment. Watershed-wide approaches to erosion control should be developed and encouraged. Riparian buffer zones could help greatly in controlling bank erosion. Activities that destabilize bottom structure such as channelization, dredging, and bridge construction should be very prudently managed.

Citation: NatureServe. 2013. Noturus munitus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T14904A19034582. . Downloaded on 17 February 2018.
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