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Rare fish, found only in Perry County, sheds light on improved water quality

Nestings of the rare grotto sculpin, found only in Perry County, Mo., are increasing as a result of improved water quality through cooperation of MU Extension and other groups, including the Missouri Department of Conservation. (Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation)

By Linda Geist/University of Missouri Extension

A rare cave-dwelling fish is shedding new light on how farmers are improving water quality through cover crops and nutrient management.

University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Department of Conservation say new nests of grotto sculpin are growing in caves in southeastern Missouri.

The small, endangered fish lives only in Perry County caves. Conservation department biologists recently found 11 egg nests in seven of the county’s 15 major caves. MDC has researched grotto sculpin for more than a decade.

MU Extension natural resources engineer Frank Wideman said improved water quality likely accounts for the increased numbers. This is the first time the state conservation department found reproduction of the fish deep within the caves. Adapted to live in the dark, the rare fish is pale from lack of pigment and may have small eyes.

The complete story is in the Friday, May 19, 2017 Richmond News.

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