The Black Warrior River watershed covers 6,276 square miles and touches parts of 17 counties, making it the largest river system contained entirely within Alabama, America’s leading state for freshwater biodiversity.
Alabama rivers contain 38 percent of North America’s fish species, 52 percent of its freshwater turtle species, 43 percent of its freshwater gill-breathing snails and 60 percent of its freshwater mussels. (Alabama Department of Freshwater Resources). Alabama has more species of freshwater fish, crayfish, mussels, turtles and snails than any other state (The Nature Conservancy).
The Black Warrior River watershed is home to 127 freshwater species of fish, 36 species of mussels, 33 species of crayfish, 15 turtle species, and numerous other aquatic animals.
There are 10 federally listed endangered species of aquatic animals in the Black Warrior River watershed, and many more that are federally listed as threatened.
There are 4 endangered fish: Cahaba shiner (Notropis cahabae), rush darter (Etheostoma phytophilum), vermilion darter (Etheostoma chermocki), and watercress darter (Etheostoma nuchale).
There is one endangered snail: plicate rocksnail (Leptoxis plicata)
There are five endangered species of mussels: dark pigtoe (Pleurobema furvum), ovate clubshell (Pleurobema perovatum), southern clubshell (Pleurobema decisum), southern combshell (Epioblasma penita), and triangular kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus greenii)
Among the many threatened animals in the watershed, there is a threatened reptile, the flattened musk turtle (Sternotherus depressus) and an amphibian threatened list candidate species, the Black Warrior waterdog (Necturus alabamensis).
For more information about the threatened and endangered plants and animals of Alabama, visit: http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/stateListingIndividual.jsp?state=AL&status=listed
Photos by Dr. Pat O’Neil, Dr. Randy Haddock, Mark Bailey, Beth Young, and Nelson Brooke