I have always been interested in knowing how many freshwater fish species could be found in my general area. I’ve read that the county I live in has 142 species that can be found in freshwater, 109 true freshwater species with another 33 that are saltwater species, but can often be found in the fresh and brackish waters of the county. Discovering the NatureServe website gave me the means and the motivation to put that list together. I decided to draw a 100 mile arc around my home and call that my target area. My freshwater opportunities are somewhat reduced inside this circle as I live approximately 20 miles from the Gulf, leaving by my guestimation about 40-45% of my circle saltwater! (Just imagine the list if it included the saltwater opportunities also!)
After drawing the circle, I identified all the watersheds that fall within it. Some of these watersheds are only partially inside the radius, but I’m thinking most of these fish are within striking distance! Using the clickable map in the NatureServe site, I then compiled species lists for each watershed.
As part of this exercise I created a 6 page summary chart showing the watershed distribution of each species.
This summary revealed some amazing statistics for this diversity rich area:
- 175 different Freshwater species can potentially be found within 100 miles of my home!
- The watershed with the highest species count of this group is the Middle Alabama Watershed with 123 species.
- The watershed with the lowest count is the Pensacola Bay Watershed with 42 species – contrast this with the Everglades Watershed having 45!
- 3 species are found in every watershed of this group – Pirate Perch, Redfin Pickerel, and the Speckled Madtom.
- 7 species are obviously on the very edge of their distribution, found in only 1 watershed of this group – River Golby, Okaloosa Darter, an undescribed Chub species, Burrhead Shiner, Stargazed Shiner, Brindled Madtom and the Yellow Perch.
The Watersheds are organized under their appropriate USGS Accounting Unit. The link for each Accounting Unit leads to an intractive map of the contained Watersheds. Each Watershed link leads to a current list of Freshwater Fish known to occur in that watershed.
031401 – USGS Florida Panhandle Coastal Accounting Unit
- 03140102 – Choctawhatchee Bay Watershed
- 03140103 – Yellow Watershed
- 03140104 – Blackwater Watershed
- 03140105 – Pensacola Bay Watershed
- 03140106 – Perdido Watershed
- 03140107 – Perdido Bay Watershed
031403 – USGS Escambia Accounting Unit
- 03140301 – Upper Conecuh Watershed
- 03140302 – Patsaliga Watershed
- 03140303 – Sepulga Watershed
- 03140304 – Lower Conecuh Watershed
- 03140305 – Escambia Watershed
031502 – USGS Alabama Accounting Unit
031602 – USGS Mobile Bay – Tombigbee Accounting Unit
- 03160201 – Middle Tombigbee – Chickasaw Watershed
- 03160203 – Lower Tombigbee Watershed
- 03160204 – Mobile – Tensaw Watershed
- 03160205 – Mobile Bay Watershed
031700 – USGS Pascagoula Mississippi Accounting Unit