Southeastern Rivers, USA
A river runs through it
They support more than 250 species of crayfish, 275 species of mussels and about half of all freshwater fish species in the United States, including the uniquely named Halloween darter and pygmy madtom – the world's smallest catfish.
Within the Roanoke River Basin of Virginia and North Carolina, more than 200 fish species are found, of which 6 are found nowhere else in the world. With more than 150 fish species, Tennessee's Duck River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America.
The region’s varied freshwater habitats also sustain numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, including the wood stork, North American river otter, American alligator and alligator snapping turtle.
The US Southeast is one of the country’s most highly populated areas. And as more people move to the area there is increased pressure on freshwater resources. Other serious challenges to the region’s diverse aquatic life are: unchecked development, agricultural runoff, pollution and dams.
Rivers at risk
WWF is working with federal and state agencies, and other organizations to achieve lasting conservation of this unique freshwater environment. This includes restoring wetlands, reintroducing river species and, overall, reaching a sustainable water balance between the needs of people and nature.
Also native to the region is the prehistoric-looking alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. With its spiked shell, beak-like jaws, and thick, scaled tail, this species is often referred to as the "dinosaur of the turtle world."