Common name: CONASAUGA LOGPERCH
Scientific Name: Percina jenkinsi Thompson
Other Commonly Used Names: none
Previously Used Scientific Names: Percina caprodes
Rarity Ranks: G1/S1
State Legal Status: Endangered
Federal Legal Status: Endangered
Description: A large darter reaching a maximum of 140 mm (5.5 in) in total length, the
Conasauga logperch has a conical snout and narrow vertical bars on the sides. Eight dark
bars extend ventrally below the lateral line, and narrower half- and quarter-length bars
separate these primary bars. The width of these primary bars is always much less than
the lighter colored space between the primary bars and the half-length bar. There is a
dark bar extending below the eye, a large spot at the base of the caudal fin, and light
banding on the dorsal and caudal fins.
Similar Species: This fish is distinguishable from the co-occurring Mobile logperch
(Percina kathae) in lacking a red or orange band on the first dorsal fin and by having
numerous, narrow vertical bars overlying the tan upper body. The width of the primary
bars in the Mobile logperch is usually equal to or a little greater than the tan spaces
between the primary bar and the secondary bar.
Habitat: The Conasauga logperch inhabits riffles and runs in the main channel of the
Conasauga River, generally occurring at water depths greater than 0.5 m (1.6 ft) with
swift current (often greater than 0.5 m/sec or 1.6 ft/sec) over cobble and gravel.
Diet: Aquatic invertebrates.
Life History: The Conasauga logperch often finds its prey by using its conical "pig-like"
snout to turn over rocks on the stream bottom (a behavior also employed by other species
of logperches, Percina spp.). A snorkeling observer may see other fishes, such as redeye
bass, positioned just downstream of a foraging logperch, apparently waiting for
invertebrates sent into the current by the stone-flipping darter. Spawning behavior and
details of spawning season conditions are unknown.
Survey Recommendations: Snorkeling or seining in and near shoals along the
Conasauga River are the best means of encountering Conasauga logperch, but they are
hard to detect due to their rarity and low abundance. Additionally, it can be difficult to
distinguish the Conasauga logperch from the more common Mobile logperch while
snorkeling, especially if stream turbidity is elevated. Electrofishing for the Conasauga
logperch is discouraged due to the increased risk of incidental mortality of this rare
Range: The Conasauga logperch is endemic to the Conasauga River (upper Coosa River
system) in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia. Its known range is an
approximate 45 km (27 mile) reach of the river, from the vicinity of the mouth of
Minnewauga Creek downstream to Mitchell Bridge in Georgia's Whitfield and Murray
Counties. Critical habitat designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service includes the
reach of the Conasauga River between the confluence of Half-way Branch in Polk
County, Tennessee, downstream approximately 18 km (11 miles) to the Georgia
Highway 2 bridge in Murray County, Georgia. Check the Fishes of Georgia Webpage for
a watershed-level distribution map.
Threats: Loss of habitat and deteriorating water quality in the upper Conasauga River
threaten the continued survival of the Conasauga logperch. The threat to this species is
acute due to its extremely limited range – only 45 kilometers of river within the entire
upper Coosa River basin. The Conasauga logperch does not appear to be abundant
anywhere within its range, in contrast with the more common and widespread Mobile
logperch. Development of water storage reservoirs adjacent to the Conasauga River may
also adversely affect habitat conditions in the lower portion of the Conasauga logperch's
range by altering stream flow and water temperatures.
Georgia Conservation Status: Recent survey data suggest that Conasauga logperch may
be encountered less frequently than they were historically, especially in the downstream
portion of their range. Increasing focus has been directed towards the status of fishes of
the Conasauga River due to the recent loss or decline of several fish species (e.g., the
Coosa chub (Macrhybopsis sp. cf. M. aestivalis and Coosa madtom (Noturus sp. cf. N.
munitus)), decline in the aquatic macrophyte, riverweed (Podostemum ceratophyllum),
and an apparent increase in algal production within the river. In an attempt to evaluate
their current status, surveys were conducted to look for the Conasauga logperch
throughout its entire range in 2008; nine individuals from five of 22 surveyed locations
were encountered. Because the probability of encountering a Conasauga logperch during
a survey is low, focused and consistent monitoring will be needed to distinguish a small
but stable population from one that is continuing to decline.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: Conserving the Conasauga
logperch depends on maintaining quality habitat in the upper Conasauga River (upstream
from Dalton, GA). Conasauga logperch and other species that depend on the river are
particularly vulnerable because there is no suitable refuge should conditions in the river
deteriorate. Conditions in the Conasauga’s tributaries directly and strongly influence
conditions in the river, thus long-term viability of the Conasauga logperch population
will require watershed-scale land-use management that protects the entire system. The
upper portion of the Conasauga River basin is within National Forest boundaries.
Downstream of the National Forest, agricultural uses become significant, while suburban
development has, so far, been limited. Eliminating runoff of upland sediment and
contaminants, such as fertilizers and other nutrients, pesticides, heavy metals, and
surfactants is critical to protecting aquatic resources. Forested buffers should be
maintained along stream banks to aid in protecting water quality. Stream buffers are
essential, but offer inadequate water quality protection where surface runoff is directed to
bypass buffered areas, (e.g., where surface drained agricultural fields accelerate upland
runoff to streams). Protecting riverine habitat quality will require the maintenance of
natural patterns of stream flow by minimizing water withdrawals, new impoundments,
and impervious cover. The Conasauga logperch and other fishes that depend on riffle
habitats are especially vulnerable to stream flow depletion because habitats with swift
currents are diminished at low flows.
Etnier, D. A. and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press,
Page, L. M. and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America
north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432pp.
Thompson, B. A. 1985. Percina jenkinsi, a new species of logperch (Pisces, Percidae)
from the Conasauga River, Tennessee and Georgia. Occasional papers of the Museum of
Zoology, Louisiana State Univ., Number 61. 24pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants;
determination of endangered status and of critical habitat for the amber darter and the
Conasauga logperch. Federal Register 50(150): 31597-31603.
Author of Account: Byron J. Freeman and Megan Hagler
Date Compiled or Updated:
B. Freeman, 1999: original account.
K. Owers, Jan 2009: Updated status and ranks, added fish atlas link, converted to new
format, minor edits to text.
M. Hagler, July 2009: general update of account
Z. Abouhamdan, April 2016: updated links