Fishes of Georgia

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Status Definitions

The classification of animals in terms of conservation status is based on federal and state law as well as on international treaties. The conservation status of many animals, or of smaller populations of a species, are reported on lists which indicate whether they need special management attention for their continued survival. When an animal is included in such a group, it is said to be "listed". Animals may be listed for a number of reasons including loss of habitat, reduced habitat quality, overfishing, and population fragmentation to name a few. Once a species is federally listed, it is illegal to have in your possession any part of such an animal, living or dead, without special permission. It is also illegal to harm/harass the species or disturb habitat where they species occur.

An animal is considered to be Endangered if it is likely to become extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Endangered Species are protected by both state and federal laws.

A Threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of it range within the foreseeable future unless significant changes occur. Some of these species may still appear to be common but generally are experiencing threats that may require the need for the additional protection this status provides.

Some species are of Special Concern because they are particularly susceptible to over-exploitation or environmental change. These species are listed under this classification when a population or a species may be in need of monitoring to assess threats to their existence. If warranted, a species could be proposed for up-listing to a Threatened or Endangered classification.

A Rare species is one which is found only within a restricted geographical area and therefore is at risk if that habitat is threatened. Other Rare species are sparsely distributed over a wide range and may be at risk simply because there are so few of them.

Additional information (species descriptions) for Georgia's rare and protected species of fish can be found at the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Website.

There are five species of fish that are endemic. An endemic species, for Georgia, is one that only occurs within the state of Georgia.

Two species which are federally listed as endangered, yellowfin madtom and spotfin chub, are considered extirpated. An extirpated species is a species that used to occur within the state, but for various reasons is assumed to no longer occur within the state. These species still occur within other portions of its range.

One species that previously occurred in Georgia, the hairlip sucker, is now extinct. Species that are no longer in existence are considered extinct.

Numerous freshwater fish species in the state are state introduced. These are species that are not considered native to the state of Georgia. Other species are listed simply as introduced, which indicates that they are not native to the United States. Some of these species have been purposely stocked or introduced for sport fisheries (including northern pike), purposely introduced for food fisheries (including tilapia), introduced via aquarium releases (goldfish), and the method of some species' introductions are unclear (swamp eels). Species listed as presumed introduced have distributions that appear to be introduced, but their original distributions are unclear.