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Scientific Investigations Map 2005–2908

Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service

Fishes of Buffalo National River

By James C. Petersen

ABSTRACT

SIM 2005-2908

The Buffalo River Basin lies within the Ozark Plateaus, which is one of the richest areas of the United States in terms of fish species. More than 175 native and introduced species of fish occur in the Ozark Plateaus and immediately adjacent areas; 74 species of fish have been documented in Buffalo National River. Ten of these species are endemic to the Ozark Plateaus--meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Casual observers are likely to spot smallmouth bass, duskystripe shiners, rainbow darters, longear sunfish, and stonerollers at almost any location along the Buffalo River. Large images (with common names in bold type) of these five abundant and widely distributed species are shown near the top of the map.

Species richness (the number of species) on the mainstem of the Buffalo River generally increases in a downstream direction. Species richness increases from less than 20 upstream from the boundary of Buffalo National River to nearly 50 near the mouth of the Buffalo River. Several species are found throughout most of the length of the river; these include duskystripe shiner, greenside darter, longear sunfish, northern hog sucker, rainbow darter, smallmouth bass, stonerollers, northern studfish, telescope shiner, whitetail shiner, Ozark minnow, and Ozark bass. See the banner at the top of this map for a pictorial representation of the generalized distribution of selected species along the length of the Buffalo River.

Each fish species has habitat requirements that determine where individuals of that species are most likely to be found. For example, many of the darters (small members of the perch family), madtoms (small members of the catfish family), and sculpins are most abundant in riffles. Sunfish, bass, and catfish generally prefer deeper water. Top minnows such as the northern studfish and blackspotted topminnow prefer the quiet water of pool margins. Minnows can be found in a wide variety of habitats. Some fish (such as the southern redbelly dace, creek chub, and orangethroat darter) are most abundant in small streams, while others (such as the river redhorse and longnose gar) prefer larger streams. Many of the fish found in Ozark streams are considered sensitive to habitat degradation such as turbidity and siltation, elevated water temperatures, high nutrient concentrations, and low dissolved-oxygen concentrations.

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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, James C. Petersen at petersen@usgs.gov 501-228-3620.

For more information about USGS activities in Little Rock, Arkansas, visit the USGS Arkansas Water Science Center.



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