From southern Virginia west to Tennessee and south to Alabama and Florida, the rivers of the American Southeast are among the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world.
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
Rivers at risk
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.
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.