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Accurate knowledge of an organism's distribution is necessary for conserving species with small or isolated populations. A perceived rarity may only reflect inadequate sampling effort and suggest the need for more research. We used a recently developed method to evaluate the distribution of a rare fish species, the blackmouth shiner Notropis melanostomus Bortone 1989 (Cyprinidae), which occurs in disjunct populations in Mississippi and Florida. Until 1995, N. melanostomus had been collected from only three localities in Mississippi, but in 1995, eight new localities were discovered. We analyzed museum records of fish collections from Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama to compare sampling effort before and after 1995. Results supported our predictions that 1)pre-1995 data would indicate inadequate sampling effort in Mississippi, 2) additional post-1995 sampling improved confidence in the currently known Mississippi distribution, and 3) there has not been enough sampling to accurately represent the actual distribution of N. melanostomus in Florida and across its entire known range. This last prediction was confirmed with the recent (2003) discovery of the first N. melanostomus in Alabama.

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Southeastern Naturalist


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