Three new darters named

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American scientists have described three new species of freshwater fish which were discovered in the Mobile Basin drainage of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

James Williams, David Neely, Stephen Walsh and Noel Burkhead named the new species as Percina kusha, Percina sipsi and Percina smithvanizi in a paper in the latest volume of the systematics journal Zootaxa.

The new Percina species

2a Percina kusha male; 2b Percina sipsi male; 2c Percina smithvanizi male. Illustration kindly provided by the specialist fish illustrator Joe Tomelleri of www.americanfishes.com.

Percina kusha, which has been named the Bridled darter, is known only from the Conasauga River drainage in Georgia and Tennessee, and the Etowah River drainage in Georgia - both are tributaries of the Coosa River.

Percina sipsi, the Bankhead darter, is known only from tributaries of Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River in northwestern Alabama.

The third species, the Musacadine darter, Percina smithvanizi, is found over a much wider area, having been recorded from fast-flowing streams above the Fall Line in the Tallapoosa River drainage in eastern Alabama and western Georgia.

The species is named in honour of Dr William Smith-Vaniz, an ichthyologist who published a major work on the fishes of Alabama.

Molecular analyses on the new species have revealed that P. smithvanizi and P. kusha are sister species, while P. sipsi sits alongside P. sciera in a clade also containing P. aurolineata.

The Percina genus now includes 44 species, of which 16 occur in the Mobile Basin, with nine of those found nowhere else in North America.

For more information see the paper: Williams JD, Neely DA, Walsh SJ and NM Burkhead (2007) - Three new percid fishes (Percidae: Percina) from the Mobile Drainage of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Zootaxa 1549: 1-28 (2007).