Cottus specus - Adams and Burr, 2013
Grotto Sculpin
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100691
Element Code: AFC4E02350
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Other Bony Fishes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Scorpaeniformes Cottidae Cottus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Adams, G. L., B. M. Burr, J. L. Day, and D. E. Starkey. 2013. Cottus specus, a new troglomorphic species of sculpin (Cottidae) from southeastern Missouri. Zootaxa 3609(5):484-494.
Concept Reference Code: A13ADA01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Cottus specus
Taxonomic Comments: Cottus specus represents the first description of a cave species within Cottus (Adams et al. 2013).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Sep2010
Global Status Last Changed: 20Sep2010
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Known from several caves in a small area in Missouri; threatened by degradation of water quality and by predatory fishes.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (20Sep2010)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Missouri (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (25Sep2013)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R3 - North Central
American Fisheries Society Status: Vulnerable (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species is restricted to five cave systems in two karst (limestone regions characterized by sink holes, abrupt ridges, caves, and underground streams) areas, the Central Perryville Karst and Mystery-Rimstone Karst in Perry County, southeastern Missouri (USFWS 2009). The current overall range is estimated to encompass approximately 260 square kilometers.

Area of Occupancy: 26-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: In determining the overall distribution, Burr et al. (2001) sampled over 27 cave streams within six karst regions in Perry County and documented the species in only five cave systems (Crevice, Moore, Mystery, Rimstone River, and Running Bull/Mapleleaf). To date, over 153 additional caves in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee have been searched for Grotto sculpin and epigean or hypogean forms of banded sculpin. Of these, Cottus carolinae was documented in 25 caves, but only fish in the 5 caves listed above exhibited the cave adaptations reported for grotto sculpin (Burr et al. 2001).

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Only a few thousand individuals are thought to exist (Burr et al. 2001, USFWS 2009).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to few (1-12)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats include water contamination as a result of point and nonpoint pollution from urban and agricultural sources (Burr et al. 2001, USFWS 2009), A large die-off of Grotto sculpins in one of the five known occupied cave systems was likely a result of pollution (USFWS 2009). Burr et al. (2001) reported that more than half of the sinkholes in Perry County contain anthropogenic refuse, ranging from household cleansers and sewage to used pesticide and herbicide containers.

One of the biggest threats to the availability and quality of grotto sculpin habitat may be siltation; many of the habitats available to grotto sculpins have been covered in large amounts of silt (Gerken and Adams 2007).

The species is also threatened by predatory fishes, which are known from all locations occupied by the species (Burr et al. 2001, USFWS 2009). These potential predators on grotto sculpin may escape surface farm ponds that unexpectedly drain through sinkholes into the underground cave systems and enter grotto sculpin habitat (USFWS 2009).

The species also faces the usual problems associated with small population size.

Short-term Trend: Unknown
Short-term Trend Comments: In 2001, a large die-off apparently occurred in one of the five remaining occupied cave systems (USFWS 2002). The species was thought to have been extirpated from that site, as subsequent visits yielded no live sculpins (Adams, pers. comm., cited by USFWS, Candidate and Listing priority Assignment Form for grotto sculpin, March 2002). However, the species reappeared there in 2005 (USFWS 2009)..

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Landowners in the region should be encouraged to enroll in the CP33 (Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds), CP22 (Riparian Buffers), and CP21 (Filter Strips) (USFWS 2009). These initiatives refer to landowner incentive programs that provide vegetation buffer zones around sinkholes and drainages in agricultural areas in the Perry County karst region. High levels of nutrient runoff can be significantly reduced through such buffers, and buffer zones reduce provide a natural filter that can reduce the levels of other chemicals entering the cave systems.

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)) This species is restricted to five cave systems in two karst (limestone regions characterized by sink holes, abrupt ridges, caves, and underground streams) areas, the Central Perryville Karst and Mystery-Rimstone Karst in Perry County, southeastern Missouri (USFWS 2009). The current overall range is estimated to encompass approximately 260 square kilometers.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States MO

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MO Perry (29157)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: This sculpin has a suite of cave-adapted features, such as small, nearly non-functional eyes; reduced skin pigmentation; low metabolic rate, among other features (Burr et al. 2001, USFWS 2002).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Based on mark-recapture studies, Day et al. (2008) concluded that the relatively sedentary nature of the grotto sculpin may limit its ability to recolonize habitats.

Adams et al. (2008) found that the majority (68%) of recaptured grotto sculpins moved 0-50 meters, which is typical of many benthic species. However, substantial migrations were seen and may have been related to spawning.

Riverine Habitat(s): SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subaquatic
Special Habitat Factors: Subterranean obligate
Habitat Comments: This sculpin inhabits cave systems in karst areas, occupying pools and riffles with moderate stream flow and low to moderate stream depth (see USFWS 2002). Individuals occur in open water or hidden under rocks in a variety of substrates including silt, gravel, cobble, rock rubble that originated from cave breakdown material, or solid bedrock. Uniquely formed cave systems may be the only habitats that provide enough food (these caves provide an abundance of invertebrates) and sustained water flow for the species (Burr et al. 2001).

Johnson et al. (2008) reported that grotto sculpins are "believed to transition between cave and surface streams throughout their lifetime." Johnson et al. (2008) found large numbers of young-of-year fish in surface sites from spring through fall (May-October). Then the sculpins disappeared, presumably into the nearby caves. Growth constants for the young were found to be up to twice as high in surface streams as in cave streams. The authors concluded that grotto sculpins were using these resurgence sites as nursery areas that allowed young fish "to grow quickly before entering into the caves, minimizing chances for cannibalism by larger sculpins after migration underground."

Analyses of two grotto sculpin populations by Gerken and Adams (2007) showed that sculpins in surface waters disproportionately used shallower areas with high abunof prey items, whereas sculpin habitat use in caves was best explained by depth, with sculpins favoring deeper habitats.

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: In caves, food items likely include amphipods, isopods, crayfish, and small fishes.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Freshwater Sculpins

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs and larvae) in appropriate habitat.
Separation Barriers: Dam lacking a suitable fishway; high waterfall; upland habitat.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Data on dispersal and other movements generally are not available. Separation distances (in aquatic kilometers) are arbitrary. Separation distance reflects the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of aquatic habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Because of the difficulty in defining suitable versus unsuitable habitat, especially with respect to dispersal, and to simplify the delineation of occurrences, a single separation distance is used regardless of habitat quality.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04Feb2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Sep2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Adams, G. L., B. M. Burr, J. L. Day, and D. E. Starkey. 2013. Cottus specus, a new troglomorphic species of sculpin (Cottidae) from southeastern Missouri. Zootaxa 3609(5):484-494.

  • Adams, G., D. Keeney, and B. M. Burr. 2003. Population genetics of grotto sculpin, Cottus carolinae, in Perry County, Missouri. Report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia, Missouri. 22 pp.

  • Adams, G., J. Day, J. Gerken, and C. Johnson. 2008. Population ecology of the grotto sculpin, Cottus carolinae, in Perry County, Missouri. University of Central Arkansas. Progress Report submitted to Missouri Department of Conservation. 25 pp.

  • Burr, B. M., G. L. Adams, J. K. Krejca, R. J. Paul, and M. L. Warren, Jr. 2001. Troglomorphic sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group in Perry County, Missouri: distribution, external morphology, and conservation status. Environmental Biology of Fishes 62:279-296.

  • Day, J., C. Johnson, J. Gerken, and G. Adams. 2008. Population ecology of grotto sculpin (Cottus carolinae) in cave and resurgence streams. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Congress for Conservation Biology, Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN, 10 July 2008.

  • Gerken, J. E., and G. Adams. 2007. Habitat use by grotto sculpin (Cottus carolinae), a troglomorphic fish in Perry County, Missouri. Pages 74-78 in 2007 National Cave and Karst Management Symposium.

  • Jelks, H. L., S. J. Walsh, N. M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D. A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N. E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J. S. Nelson, S. P. Platania, B. A. Porter, C. B. Renaud, J. Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, E. B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.

  • Johnson, C., J. Day, and G. Adams. 2008. Life history characteristics of grotto sculpin (Cottus carolinae) in cave and surface streams of Perry County, Missouri. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Congress for Conservation Biology, Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN, 10 July 2008.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 13 June 2002. Review of species that are candidates or proposed for listing as endangered or threatened; annual notice of findings on recycled petitions; annual description of progress on listing actions. Federal Register 67(114):40657-40679.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2002. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Species that are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions. Federal Register Vol. 67(114). 40657-40679.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2002. Grotto sculpin. Candidate and listing priority assignment form.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2009. Grotto sculpin. Candidate and listing priority assignment form.

  • Vandike, J. E. 1985. Movement of shallow groundwater in the Perryville Karst area, southeastern Missouri. Water Res. Rept. (40):1-56.

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