Spotted Bass Micropterus punctulatus (Rafinesque, 1819)
Timothy N. Churchill and Phillip W. Bettoli
Three subspecies of Spotted Bass Micropterus punctulatus were historically recognized: the smaller Northern Spotted Bass M. p. punctulatus, the larger, longer-lived Alabama Spotted Bass M. p. henshalli, and the now invalidated Wichita Spotted Bass M. p. wichitae (Bailey and Hubbs 1940; Cofer 1995; Warren 2009; Rider and Maceina 2015, this volume). The subspecific status has been examined over the past decade as advanced genetic analyses have been developed (e.g., Kassler et al. 2002; Baker et al. 2008; Tringali et al. 2015, this volume). The American Fisheries Society has recently changed the designation of the Alabama Spotted Bass to a separate species, Alabama Bass M. henshalli (Page et al. 2013). The remainder of this paper will discuss the biology and conservation of only Spotted Bass. Both species have been observed to hybridize with other Micropterus spp. (Koppelman 1994; Pierce and Van Den Avyle 1997; Barwick et al. 2006).
Spotted Bass were originally distributed within the Mississippi River basin from southern Ohio and West Virginia to southwestern Kansas and south to the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf river drainages from Choctawhatchee River, Alabama and Florida, west to the Guadalupe River, Texas (Robbins and MacCrimmon 1974; Warren 2009). Not all Spotted Bass populations within the Gulf of Mexico drainage were native. Introductions were reported in the Apalachicola River by Bailey and Hubbs (1949) and in the Chattahoochee River system by Sammons (2012). Several of the Gulf drainage populations of purported Spotted Bass have more recently been reported as mixed or unnamed Micropterus species (Tringali et al. 2015). Spotted Bass have had their range expanded significantly through introductions and now inhabit many river systems, including the Missouri River and the southern half of the western United States (Robbins and MacCrimmon 1974).