This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds and other creatures. It is endangered in our nation and in our state, but restoration efforts are underway.
Mudminnows are a small family of only six species and are most closely related to the pikes. This is the only mudminnow that occurs in our state, and it is rare, occurring only in a few marshy locations near the Mississippi River.
This pale, very slender darter is Endangered in Missouri. Formerly known from many river drainages in the east-central and southeastern parts of our state, it apparently now lives only in the Gasconade and Black rivers.
Missouri’s Bootheel lowlands are unlike any other place in the state, and many of the animals and plants that live there occur nowhere else within our borders. The cypress minnow, like the habitat it prefers, is in danger of vanishing from Missouri.
There are two species of skunks in Missouri, the more familiar striped skunk and the lesser-known spotted skunk. The spotted skunk has been declining drastically in recent years because of habitat loss.
This active, big-river fish formerly occurred along the entire length of the Missouri River. In the 1940s, it constituted 31 percent of all small fishes in the Missouri River! By the early 1980s, that figure was 1.1 percent. Today, it has all but vanished from our state.
One of the rarest darters in our state, the endangered goldstripe has exacting habitat requirements: It needs small, shallow, shaded, spring-fed streams with clear water and a low to moderate gradient. What it doesn’t need is siltation, pollution, channel restriction and removal of the tree canopy above!
The gray wolf originally ranged throughout Missouri, but with settlement the species was gradually exterminated. While there is no evidence of a breeding population in the state, wolves are listed as a protected species in Missouri, and they occasionally wander into Missouri from northern states.
In Missouri, this rare darter is found only in our southeastern lowlands. It lives in flowing streams and ditches with sandy bottoms among logs, sticks and other organic debris. It is State Endangered because its small numbers and limited range make it vulnerable to extirpation.
Indiana bats summer along streams and rivers in north Missouri, raising their young under bark of certain trees. They are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Missouri.
The largest of Missouri’s three sturgeons is rare and endangered in our state. One way to identify it is by its conical (not shovel-nosed) snout. And despite its name, in our state this fish is almost always found in big rivers—not lakes.
Originally, this water bird lived on islands, beaches and sandbars in big rivers, but as these areas have become rare, least terns have been forced to “make do” with dredge islands, dikefields, sandpits and gravel roads atop levees. Because of their habitat loss, they are now endangered.
The next time you are enjoying the waters of Table Rock Lake, remember the longnose darter, which used to inhabit the White River when it still flowed through that area. This is why it’s important to protect this Endangered darter’s few remaining streams from sedimentation and pollution.
This shy, reclusive, nonaggressive rattlesnake used to live in floodplain wetlands of the Mississippi, Missouri and Grand rivers, but as those wetlands have been drained and destroyed, the massasauga has disappeared with them. Now it is an endangered species.
This semiaquatic snake was once somewhat common in southeastern Missouri but is now probably extirpated. A heavy-bodied snake, it is greenish-brown with numerous small, obscure brown markings. The belly is dark gray with numerous, yellow half-moon-shaped markings. Watersnakes, although not venomous, do bite viciously to defend themselves and also secret a strong-smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail.
Two small, jet-black spots at the base of the tail fin distinguish this small fish from the more than 30 other darters found in our state. Known from only a few tributaries of the Osage River, this dainty and colorful fish is a nationally threatened species.
This small, colorless, blind fish lives its entire life in springs, cave streams and underground waters. It has been declared Endangered in our state and as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Similar to shovelnose sturgeon, but with a longer and more pointed snout. Bases of the inner barbels are weakly fringed, and the base of an inner barbel is less than half the width of the base of an outer barbel.
The fastest living animal, this bird can dive at speeds of up to 261 miles per hour! It is currently being reintroduced to the state in urban areas, where skyscrapers replace the cliffs it traditionally nested on.
Also called southern spicebush, this colony-forming shrub grows in swampy depressions in lowland forests. It is an Endangered species. In Missouri, only one population occurs, in southern Ripley County.
One of the rarest darters in Missouri is part of a highly distinctive fish community living in the lower Spring River and its North Fork, in Jasper and Barton counties. Just as the landscape transitions from prairie to Ozarks, the stream character changes, there, too.
Missouri’s southeastern lowlands are home to a fantastic array of plants and animals found nowhere else in the state. The Sabine shiner is one of them—in Missouri, it’s known only from a short stretch of the Black River in Butler County.
The snuffbox has been classified as Endangered in Missouri and is a candidate for federal Endangered status. Perhaps it should also be a candidate for a new common name, since the popularity of snuff-taking is long past.
Darters usually prefer the swift, clear waters of streams and riffles, but this darter is different. True to its name, it prefers swamps and sloughs with no current at all. Rare in our state, it’s found only in a few southeast Missouri locations.
One of the rarest Missouri minnows, the taillight shiner is known only from a few localities in Southeast Missouri—in habitats representing the last remnants of low-gradient streams and swamps that once characterized that region.
This showy fringed orchid of Missouri’s western prairies is endangered and known only from a few northwestern locations. Learn why this native wildflower is special, and why it’s so important to preserve our remaining tallgrass prairies.
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