AQUATIC COMMUNITY DATA
The White River region is the most diverse region in Missouri as far as number of fish species is concerned. Fifty-six species or subspecies have a localized distribution in this basin or have a limited distribution elsewhere in the state. A localized distribution is one in which organisms are found in great abundance in an area, but may also be found in limited or reduced abundance in other areas of their range. Species or subspecies which are restricted to the White River region include: the Ozark bass, duskystripe shiner, White River or Arkansas saddled darter, and the yoke darter. Each of these species has been collected in the James River Basin. Four races or subspecies in the basin are found elsewhere in the state, but have a morphological distinction in the White River region. These species are the longear sunfish, rainbow darter, fantail darter, and the orangethroat darter (Pflieger 1989).
This region also has several unique or limited-distribution crayfish species (Table 17; Pflieger 1987 and 1989). Several amphibians and reptiles which have a localized distribution in the James River Basin are listed in Table 18.
The mussels in the James River Basin were sampled by Oesch in 1967-1974 and Buchanan in 1982. The objectives of Buchanan's study were to determine the presence of the Curtis Pearly Mussel (Epioblasma florentina curtisi) and the distribution and abundance of the basin's other naiad species. Buchanan found 24 species, but no Curtis Pearly Mussels. He also found that sewage effluent from the Springfield area had an impact on the naiad fauna in 20 miles of the James River downstream from the mouth of Wilson Creek. The naiad fauna has yet to recover. Information on abundance, composition, and species profiles can be found in Buchanan (1982). The mussels found in the James River Basin are listed in Table 19.
FISH COMMUNITY DATA
Fish collections have been made throughout the basin since the early 1930s (Table 20). There are 71 fish species which have been collected since that time (Table 21). In 1995, fish were collected by Fisheries District 9 staff from William Pflieger's historic collection sites, as well as additional sites located throughout the basin (Table 22, Figures 6A-D). Fish species distributions by stream are listed in Table 23. In addition to the collections by Department staff, fish have also been sampled from the James River at Highway 125 Bridge and the Old Bridge at Highway D east of Springfield in 1994 and 1995 by Dan Beckman, Ph.D., at Southwest Missouri State University (Table 24).
Several species were collected historically by Pflieger, but have been absent from the recent collections made by Beckman and District 9 staff. These species are:
- Highfin carpsucker (Carpiodes velifer)
- Quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus)
- Black bullhead (Ameirus melas)
- Yellow bullhead (Ameirus natalis)
- Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
- White bass (Morone chrysops)
- Freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)
- Wedgespot shiner (Notropis greenei)
- Ozark shiner (Notropis ozarcanus)
- Fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)
- Golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)
- Creek chubsucker (Erimyzon oblongus)
- Bigeye chub (Hybopsis dissimilis)
- White River saddled darter (Etheostoma e. euzonum)
- Fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare)
- Speckled darter (Etheostoma stigmaeum)
- Gilt darter (Percina evides)
- Mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi)
- Checkered madtom (Noturus flavater)
- Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae)
Inadequate sampling methods or effort could explain the absence of all of these species from the collections of Beckman and Fisheries District 9 staff. Inadequate sampling methods are probably the best explanation for the absence of the highfin carpsucker, quillback, bullheads, white bass, and freshwater drum. These species are large fish, and most of the sampling was conducted with seines. Net avoidance and the inability of the researchers to sample the deeper preferred habitats of these species could lead to their absence in recent collections. Samples were collected in August and September. Therefore, white bass is probably absent from recent collections because it usually occurs in streams only during the spring spawning run. The golden shiner and creek chubsucker may also be missing from collections for no other reason than inadequate sampling effort.
In some instances, however, there could be other reasons for the absence of a particular species. For instance, the redear sunfish has not been collected from streams in the basin since the early 1970s. This species occupies some of the same stream habitats as other sunfish species represented in the collections. It is unlikely that sampling bias is the reason for the absence of this species in recent collections.
The wedgespot shiner lives in close association with the rosyface, telescope, and striped shiners which were all collected in abundance. The absence of wedgespot shiners is not likely due to sampling inadequacies. The checkered madtom is another example of this type of association. This species is commonly found with the Ozark madtom which was collected in the basin.
The Ozark shiner and gilt darter have not been collected in the basin since before 1946. These species have very localized distributions in the Ozarks and may no longer occur in the basin. The fantail and White River (or Arkansas) saddled darters also have localized distributions in the basin and have not been collected since the early 1970s. This suggests that they no longer occur in the basin. The bigeye chub may also be extirpated from the basin.
Fathead minnows are most common in prairie region streams. When they are found in Ozark streams, it is probably the result of bait or hatchery releases. This could be the explanation for the absence of this species from the collections made by Beckman and Fisheries District 9 staff.
Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense), which had not appeared in historic collections, were collected by Fisheries District 9 staff on Flat Creek at the junction of Table Rock Lake. This species was introduced to Table Rock Lake.
One of the fish species collected historically is now on the Rare and Endangered Species Checklist of Missouri (MDC 1995b), the Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae). This species was not collected by Fisheries District 9 staff in 1995. There are three active Ozark cavefish sites in the basin.
Black bass populations were sampled by electrofishing in the James River in 1994 and 1995. Data for largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, Ozark bass, and longear sunfish are available at the Fisheries District 9 office in Springfield.
RARE, THREATENED, AND ENDANGERED SPECIES
The James River Basin is part of a region with a very diverse aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. This unique assemblage includes several state and federally listed threatened and endangered species. The federally listed endangered species occurring in the basin are the Missouri bladder-pod (Lesquerella filiformis), the Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii), the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), and the gray bat (Myotis grisescens). The Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) is federally listed as threatened.
The state listed endangered species (four of which are also classified federally) occurring in the James River Basin are Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), parsley haw (Cratageus marshallii), tansey mustard (Descurainia pinnata pinnata), a liprocarpha (Liprocarpha durmmondii), Ozark cavefish, Missouri bladder-pod, Indiana bat, and the gray bat. The federally endangered Ozark big-eared bat is thought to be extirpated in the basin. Indian physic (Gillenia trifoliata) is also believed to be extirpated in the basin.
Species in the basin that are listed by the state as rare or threatened are: An Isopod (no common name) (Caecidotea dimorpha), White River midget crayfish (Orconectes williamsi), Marine vine (Cissus incisa), Low prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza), Stenosiphon (Stenosiphon linifolius), Ozark wake robin (Trillium pusillum var ozarkanum), Ozark corn salad (Valerianella ozarkana), Texas horned lizard (Phynosoma cornutum), Ozark spiderwort (Tradescantia ozarkana), and Highfin carpsucker (Carpiodes velifer).
There are also several species in the basin which are included on the state watch list. These are: Grotto salamander (Typhlotriton spelaeus), Bristly cave crayfish (Cambarus setosus), Ozark cave amphiod (Stygobromus ozarkensis), Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris var pensylvanca), Purple false foxglove (Agalinis purpurea), Broadwing sedge (Carex alata), Yellow wood (Cladrastis kentukea), Wood stonecrop (Sedum ternatum), Royal catchfly (Silene regia), Purple lilliput (Toxolasma lividus), Eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris), Northern river otter (Lutra canadensis), False foxglove (Agalinis skinneriana), Whitlow grass (Draba aprica), Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii), Ringed salamander (Ambystoma annulatum), Checkered madtom (Noturus flavater), and Net spinning caddisfly (Hydropsyche piatrix).
ANGLER SURVEY DATA
Angler survey data have been collected on Table Rock Lake, at the foot of the basin. Summaries of these data can be found in various annual reports in the Southwest Regional Office in Springfield.
Documented stocking records are limited. The earliest releases of trout and salmon were probably around 1880. As early as 1893, rainbow trout were stocked in Crane Creek in Stone County. The spread of the common carp was probably hastened by purposeful stocking of area streams in the latter half of the last century. A resident paddlefish population is currently maintained in Table Rock Lake through stocking by MDC. These fish move upstream from Table Rock Lake and into the James River annually. There is currently no evidence of successful reproduction. Threadfin shad and walleye have also been stocked in Table Rock Lake.
Crane Creek and Spring Creek in Stone County support self-sustaining populations of wild rainbow trout. Stocking records indicate that Crane Creek was last stocked in the early 1900's. Limited data suggest that Crane Creek supports a strain of wild trout closely related to the original McCloud River, California strain of rainbow trout. MDC is using offspring of these fish to help establish other wild trout populations in Missouri.
Numerous ponds throughout the basin have been stocked with a variety of fish including largemouth bass, bluegill, white crappie, redear sunfish, grass carp, and channel catfish. Escapement of channel catfish stocked by MDC in Lake Springfield probably occurs, but the extent is undocumented.
Statewide fishing regulations (daily limits, size limits, methods, and seasons) apply to most of the streams in the basin. Please refer to the most recent version of the Wildlife Code of Missouri and signs posted at public accesses for specific regulations.
Aquatic invertebrates have been sampled extensively by Tracey (1979) and by Dieffenbach and Ryck (1976) (Table 25). Dieffenbach and Ryck (1976) assessed the effects of pollutants on stream water quality using the density, diversity, and composition of bottom-dwelling invertebrates as a reflection of water quality at a variety of sites.
Dieffenbach and Ryck (1976) concluded that the upper portion of the James River had invertebrate communities characteristic of unpolluted Ozark streams. There were, however, pollution related concerns on several major tributaries and the lower James River. Pearson Creek had reduced invertebrate community indices, most likely as a result of some combination of pollution and the substantial influence of spring flow on the reach sampled. Index values were depressed in Flat Creek near Cassville, but recovered in its lower reaches. In Finley Creek, indices reflected good water quality in upstream reaches, but were depressed in a seven mile reach below Ozark and Nixa. Wilson Creek was severely impacted for approximately five miles below the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, and about 14 miles of the James River below Wilson Creek were moderately affected.
Youngsteadt (1995) conducted a more recent survey of the invertebrate community on Pearson Creek. He found that aquatic ecosystem health is worse in lower Pearson Creek than in its upper reaches and that it is worse in general than it was in 1965.