Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Birdsong, T.W. and 19 co-authors. 2015. Native Black Bass Initiative: Implementing Watershed-Scale Approaches to Conservation of Endemic Black Bass and Other Native Fishes in the Southern United States. Pages 363-378 in Tringali, M.D., J.M. Long, T.W. Birdsong, and M.S. Allen, editors. Black bass diversity: multidisciplinary science for conservation. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 82, Bethesda, Maryland.


Rivers and streams of the southern United States (US) contain more than 1,800 aquatic species, 500 of which are regionally endemic. At present, 34% of the fish species and 90% of the mussel species in peril nationwide are found in these systems. Declines in these imperiled species are due to many factors, including hydrologic alteration, degraded water quality, loss of instream and watershed connectivity, physical habitat degradation, and the negative effects of non-indigenous species (e.g., predation on, competition with, and hybridization with native forms). In addition, this situation is exacerbated through human population growth, competing water demands, land use changes, and other interrelated issues. If unchecked, these issues will likely continue to contribute to the imperilment and loss of native species in the region. Of the nine described species and subspecies of black bass, six are endemic to the southern US: Guadalupe Bass Micropterus treculii, Shoal Bass M. cataractae, Redeye Bass M. coosae, Florida Bass M. salmoides floridanus, Alabama Bass M. henshalli, and Suwannee Bass M. notius. In addition, undescribed species and subspecies also exist and all are in need of conservation measures to prevent them from becoming imperiled. In an effort to focus and coordinate actions to support the long-term persistence of endemic black bass populations, local, state, and federal agencies, universities, non-governmental organizations, and corporations from across the region joined with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to form the Native Black Bass Initiative (NBBI). The NBBI provides regional conservation strategies, objectives and targets to restore and preserve functional processes in those watersheds that support natural habitat conditions and sustainable populations of endemic black bass and other native fishes of the region. Initial actions implemented through the NBBI focus on addressing the conservation needs of Guadalupe Bass in streams of the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion of Texas, Redeye Bass in the Savannah River watershed of Georgia and South Carolina, and Shoal Bass populations in the Apalachicola River watershed of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.