|Listed||August 5, 1985|
|Description||Large darter with dark tiger stripes over a yellow body.|
|Reproduction||Probably spawns in the spring.|
|Threats||Limited range, siltation, water pollution.|
The Conasauga logperch, Percina jenkinsi, also known as the reticulate logperch, is a large, slender darter, sometimes exceeding 6 in (15 cm) in length. It is characterized by tiger-like vertical dark stripes over a yellow upper body, small scales, narrow, dark bars with blotches between them, and a piglike snout. P. jenkinsi lacks the red, orange, or yellow colors found in the first dorsal fin of other logperch.
Little is known of the behavior of this logperch. Collected specimens suggest that it spawns in the spring, most likely in fast-flowing riffles over gravel bottoms. It is non-migratory but changes its habitat from deep runs or flowing pools to deeper, slower pools in the fall. During the reproductive season it moves to shallow shoal areas with swift currents. The reproductive characteristics of P. jenkinsi are not known but the closely related P. caprodes has been well-studied. The non-territorial males gather in groups. When a receptive female swims through the school she is pursued by several males, one of which mates with her by burying in the sand, during which time 10-20 eggs are released, fertilized, and buried. The adults abandon the eggs and may spawn with several other mates. During a spring/summer reproductive season, P. caprodes females may lay as many as 3,000 eggs. Eggs hatch in five to nine days and the young fish may reach full maturity within a year.
It has been observed to forage for aquatic invertebrates by flipping over stones with its pig-like snout.
The Conasauga logperch requires clean, unpolluted deep water or flowing pools with moderate to swift currents and substrates of clean rubble, sand, or gravel bottoms. Siltation, which often results when lands are cleared for agriculture or other uses, is a major threat to the quality of these stream habitats. Reproduction may occur in flowing pools with clean gravel substrates or in the swift currents of rivers. In lakes it spawns in more shallow sandy shoreline areas.
This logperch has only been known from a single stretch of the Conasauga River in extreme southeastern Tennessee and north Georgia. Part of its range overlaps with that of the Endangered amber darter (P. antesella ).
The Conasauga logperch is restricted to about 11 mi (18 km) of the upper Conasauga River. It has been found from just above the junction of Minnewauga Creek (Polk County), Tennessee, downstream through Bradley County, Tennessee, to the State Highway 2 bridge (Murray County), Georgia. The species has never been found outside this short stretch of river.
The upper Conasauga River flows through the Chattahoochee and Cherokee national forests, providing some protection for the downstream habitat where the logperch is found. However, agricultural and urban runoff from developed areas continue to jeopardize the habitat. Because of its limited range and clean water requirements, the Conasauga log-perch could be jeopardized by a single catastrophic event, such as a toxic chemical spill.
A proposed reservoir project on the lower Conasauga River could also affect the fishes upstream. Fishes common to reservoirs, such as carp (Cyprinus carpio ), dramatically increase in number after dam construction and could migrate upstream into the logperch's range. In 1982 an island in the Conasauga River in Murray County, Georgia, was removed for flood control purposes. Before this channel work was done, Conasauga log-perch were present but now cannot be located at the site.
Conservation and Recovery
Many organizations are now involved in helping to preserve the Conasauga River's ecosystem, which supports a number of rare fish and other species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) field offices in Jacksonville, Florida, and Asheville, North Carolina, have provided funds to The Nature Conservancy to begin restoration work along the upper river corridor. Conservancy field offices in Tennessee and Georgia are working to identify areas with high biological diversity, map land-use patterns within those areas, and pinpoint threats to habitat quality. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages two national forests in the Conasauga head-waters (the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia and Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee), is monitoring rare fishes and has an interest in the well-being of other species at risk. Researchers at the University of Georgia's Institute of Ecology are mapping quality habitats and conducting studies on the status and life history of federally listed species.
The FWS has designated habitat critical to the survival of the Conasauga logperch to encompass its entire current range in Polk and Bradley Counties, Tennessee, and Murray County, Georgia. The water quality of this river section remains high; siltation and runoff are slight. FWS and state personnel are periodically monitoring the logperch population and are tracking developments that may potentially degrade the river. The FWS may attempt to introduce the logperch into another stream in the region to reduce the chances of accidental or catastrophic loss.
Regional Office of Endangered Species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
Ramsey, J. S. 1976. "Freshwater Fishes," In H.Boschung, ed., Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals of Alabama. Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History. No. 2.
Thompson, B. A. 1985. "Percina jenkinsi, a New Species of Logperch (Pisces: Percidae) from the Conasauga River, Tennessee and Georgia." Occasional Papers of the Museum Zoology Louisiana State University, No. 62.