Cottus pygmaeus (or Cottus paulus)
status: Critically endangered, IUCN Threatened, ESA
range: USA (Alabama)
Description and biology
The pygmy sculpin is a small freshwater fish, averaging less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) long. It has a large head and spotted fins. Young pygmy sculpins have a black head and a grayish-black body. The adult sculpin has a lighter body and a white head with a few dark spots. These fish feed on a variety of insects, snails, and small crustaceans such as crabs.
Male and female pygmy sculpins both darken in color while breeding. Males become almost black and have a reddish-orange tinge along their dorsal (back) fin. Females may spawn (lay eggs) at any time during the year, but do so mostly in spring and summer. Sometimes two or three females form a communal nest by laying all their eggs on the underside of a single rock. Biologists (people who study living organisms) believe a male then guards this nest until the eggs hatch.
[Image not available for copyright reasons]
Habitat and current distribution
Pygmy sculpins are found only in Coldwater Spring in Calhoun County, Alabama. Biologists estimate that about 1,000 sculpins inhabit the spring run (small stream or brook) and another 8,000 inhabit the spring pool. Both the pool and the run have sand and gravel bottoms. The temperature of the water in each is a constant 61° to 64°F (16° to 18°C).
History and conservation measures
The pygmy sculpin was discovered in 1968. Because of its restricted range, it is especially vulnerable. Even though its population numbers seem high, the species could be wiped out if a natural or man-made disaster occurs at its site.
Conservationists (people protecting the natural world) believe the pygmy sculpin is indeed in danger. Evidence indicates that the aquifer (underground layer of sand, gravel, or spongy rock that collects water) that feeds the Coldwater Spring is becoming polluted.
"Sculpin, Pygmy." Endangered Species. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 17, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/sculpin-pygmy
"Sculpin, Pygmy." Endangered Species. . Retrieved September 17, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/sculpin-pygmy
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.