Rare species are difficult to study or conserve. Beloneuria jamesae Stark and Szczytko (Cheaha Stone) (Plecoptera:Perlidae) is endemic to the Talladega Mountains, Alabama, USA, rarely collected, and considered imperiled. We collected stonefly larvae at 181 locations and found Cheaha Stone at 33% of these. Species distribution modeling by classification tree analysis identified elevation, stream size, and permanence as key habitat variables. Cheaha Stone was most prevalent in small permanent streams at higher elevation but extended into larger streams with sources at high elevation. Populations occurred infrequently in small streams at lower elevations. The known distribution of Cheaha Stone is protected within public lands, but climate warming and possible increases in drought frequency and severity could restrict the species to fragmented populations in small streams draining the highest summits of this low mountain range. Our georeferenced data and explicit classification tree are foundations for monitoring and management and are guidelines for seeking Cheaha Stone outside its known geographic range.
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Vol. 33 • No. 4