Text modified from Abell et al. 2000. Freshwater Ecoregions of North America: A Conservation Assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA. Additional text provided by Jennifer Hales.
Major Habitat Type
Temperate floodplain rivers and wetlands
Drainages flowing into
The drainages of this ecoregion flow to the Gulf of Mexico.
Main rivers to other water bodies
The Apalachicola ecoregion encompasses the drainages of the Apalachicola and Econfina rivers. Tributaries include the Flint and Chattahoochee, which meet to form the Apalachicola.
The ecoregion stretches from northern Georgia along the western border with Alabama to the Gulf Coast through the central part of the Florida panhandle. With the exception of the Mobile Bay drainage, the Apalachicola is the only northeastern Gulf drainage that extends above the Fall Line.
The Apalachicola’s two main tributaries, the Chattahoochee and Flint, arise in the Blue Ridge physiographic province of northern Georgia, and the Piedmont Plateau near Atlanta, respectively (Livingston 1992; Carr 1994). Elevations here reach above 1000 m. The Chattahoochee then flows through the Red Hills of the Piedmont province before entering the upper Coastal Plain where it meets the Flint to form the Apalachicola.
Although the Apalachicola lies entirely within the coastal plain, the variety of habitats found in its two tributary rivers provide the foundation for a diverse freshwater fauna (Livingston 1992). Because reaches of the Apalachicola flow through shaded ravines with cool spring inputs, immigrant species that have found their way south via the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers find habitat that resembles that of more northerly regions (Livingston 1992; Carr 1994).
Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests in the northern part of the ecoregion are demarcated from the conifer forests in the south by the Fall Line of the Atlantic Piedmont. The conifer forests are fire-maintained systems dominated by long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris) (Ricketts et al. 1999).
Description of endemic fishes
Endemic fish species in this ecoregion are the broadstripe shiner (Pteronotropis euryzonus), bluestripe shiner (Cyprinella callitaenia), greater jumprock (Scartomyzon lachneri), and shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae) (Swift et al. 1986; Page & Burr 1991).
Justification for delineation
Ecoregion boundaries are taken from Abell et al. (2000) and are based on subregions defined by Maxwell et al. (1995).
- Carr, M. H. (1994) A naturalist in Florida: A celebration of Eden Yale University Press : New Haven, Connecticut, USA
- Livingston, R. J. (1992). "Medium-sized rivers of the Gulf Coastal Plain" Hackney, C. T.;Adams, S. M.;Martin, W. H. (Ed.) Biodiversity of the southeastern United States: aquatic communities ( pp. 351-385 ) New York, New York, USA.: John Wiley and Sons, Inc..
- Swift, C. C., Gilbert, C. R., Bortone, S. A., et al. (1986). "Zoogeography of the freshwater fishes of the southeastern United States: Savannah River to Lake Pontchartrain" C. H. Hocutt and E. O. Wiley (Ed.) The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes ( pp. 213-265 ) New York, New York, USA: Wiley.
- Ricketts, T. H.,E. Dinerstein,D.M Olson;C.J. Loucks (1999). "Terrestrial ecoregions of North America: A conservation assessment" Washington, D.C.: World Wildlife Fund.
- Abell, R.,Olson, D.,Dinerstein, E.,Hurley, P. T.,Diggs, J. T.,Eichbaum, W.,Walters, S.,Wettengel, W.,Allnutt, T.,Loucks, C. J.;Hedao, P. (2000). "Freshwater ecoregions of North America" Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
- Maxwell, J. R., Edwards, C. J., Jensen, M. E., et al. (1995) \A hierarchical framework of aquatic ecological units in North America (Nearctic Zone)\ St. Paul, MN. North Central Forest Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service.
- Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr (1991). "A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico" New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co..