endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: Native throughout central and lower Mississippi River basin from southern Ohio and West Virginia to southeastern Kansas and south to the Gulf; Gulf drainages from Chattahoochee River (where possibly introduced), Georgia, to Guadalupe River, Texas; introduced on Atlantic Slope in Virginia and North Carolina, in lower Pecos River, New Mexico, and Consummes and Feather rivers, California (Page and Burr 1991).
Length: 35 cm
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Comments: Small clear creeks with moderate to swift current and gravel to coarse sand substrate; moderate size, clear, low gradient sections of rivers with gravel substrate; and reservoirs (especially large deep oligotrophic ones). Secretive pool dweller in streams; in reservoirs adults mostly in deeper water, young near shore. After leaving nest, juveniles usually in schools in backwater or cove areas near cover (Sublette et al. 1990). Eggs are laid in a nest made by the male on bottoms ranging from mud to gravel in low-current areas (Moyle 1976), at depths averaging 1.5-6.7 m in reservoirs, 33-73 cm in streams.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Each adult frequently remains in one limited area for most of year, such as single stream pool, but spawning migrations are common in spring (Moyle 1976).
Comments: Juveniles feed initially on zooplankton; larger individuals eat crayfishes, aquatic insects, and small fishes.
Adults may stay in single stream pool for most of year (Moyle 1976). Juveniles swim in schools that disperse when fishes are about 30 mm long.
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Feeding activity mainly crepuscular.
Spawns in late spring; eggs hatch in about 5 days at 14-16 C; sexually mature in 2nd or 3rd year; male guards eggs and hatchlings (Moyle 1976).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Micropterus punctulatus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Micropterus punctulatus
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Total adult population size is unknown but relatively large.
Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable or slowly declining.
Comments: Localized threats may exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus), also called spotty, or spots in various fishing communities, is a species of freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of the order Perciformes. One of the black basses, it is native to the Mississippi River basin and across the Gulf states, from central Texas through the Florida panhandle. Its native range extends into the western Mid-Atlantic states and it has been introduced into western North Carolina and Virginia. It has also been introduced to southern Africa, where it has become established in some isolated waters. It is often mistaken for the similar and more common largemouth bass.
A convenient way to distinguish between a largemouth bass and a spotted bass is by the size of the mouth. A spotted bass will resemble a largemouth bass in coloration but will have a smaller mouth.
M. punctulatus can reach an overall length of almost 64 cm (25 in), reaching weights of up to 4.6 kg (10 lb). It can reach an age of at least seven years. It is noted for the rows of dark spots below the lateral line, which give it its common name.
In 2010, the scientific community officially recognized a separate subspecies of spotted bass, native to the Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers, and their lakes. This species is commonly known as the "Alabama spotted bass" (M. henshalli) and known locally as the "Coosa spotted bass", not to be confused with the "red-eye Coosa bass" found in northeast Georgia.
The Alabama spotted is highly prized as a gamefish and average size is much larger than the more common Kentucky spotted bass. The current record spotted bass, caught in pine Flat Lake, California, weighed 10.27 lb. 
- FishBase: Micropterus punctulatus
- "Micropterus punctulatus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- Rohde, F. C., et al. Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
- Nomenclature of the Spotted Bass
- Spotted Bass Records
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Micropterus punctulatus.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spotted bass.|
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Micropterus henshalli of the Mobile River basin formerly was included in M. punctulatus; Baker et al. (2008) recognized henshalli as a distinct species.
This species has hybridized with smallmouth bass in Missouri (Koppleman 1994). Nominal subspecies wichitae is an invalid taxon (= M. punctulatus, or M. punctulatus X M. dolomieu) (Cofer 1995). See Coughlin et al. (2003) for information on the genetic makeup of populations in the Red and Arkansas river basins (including further indication that wichitae does not warrant recognition as a distinct taxon).