NANFA-L-- new North American fish list

Subject: NANFA-L-- new North American fish list
From: Christopher Scharpf (
Date: Sun Aug 08 2004 - 12:03:36 CDT

Surprisingly, there is no comprehensive and taxonomically up-to-date list of
native North American freshwater fish species on the web. To remedy this
situation, I've compiled the following list:

You'll notice that in addition to species, the list contains subspecies and
undescribed forms. The list also includes whether the species is extinct, or
is protected by the U.S., Canadian, or Mexican governments.

The list is provisional, subject to peer review, and to some extent
subjective: it is based on my review of the literature and reflects a
synthesis of major systematic, taxonomic, and distributional works. The
list, of course, is subject to change, and change it will -- especially when
the American Fisheries Society list of all North American fish species
(freshwater and marine) and other works (e.g., the Fishes of Mexico book)
are published later this year. As new species are described and names are
changed, the list will be updated to reflect the change (note the revision
date-in-the beginning of the list).

A few introductory comments:

* With several exceptions, the fishes included on the list are obligatory
freshwater fishes. The exceptions are marine or brackish water species that
are naturally capable of spawning in fresh water, and, in some cases,
maintain exclusively freshwater populations. Examples include bay anchovy
(Anchoa mitchilli), mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), starry flounder
(Platichthys stellatus), and various pipefishes, sleepers, gobies, and

* North America is herein defined not as the entire continent, but as the
Nearctic zoogeographic realm. The Nearctic Realm includes the entire
continental landmass, including Greenland, Alaska, Canada, the lower 48
states, and Mexico south to the where the Mexican plateau breaks down into
the lowlands of Central America. Specifically, this includes land north of
18N on the Atlantic slope, and 16N on the Pacific slope of Mexico; the
imaginary line drawn between these two latitudinal points corresponds
roughly to the southern range limit of chiefly northern fishes such as
minnows and suckers, and the northern range limit of the chiefly southern
catfish family Heptateridae. This is not a discrete boundary, but a broad
transition zone where the continental plates of North and South America
began pushing against each around three million years ago (or later). Areas
below this line, including extreme southern (tropical) Mexico, are in the
Neotropical Realm. So, too, are the Greater Antilles. Even though Cuba is
just 150 km off the coast of Florida, and Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of
the United States, they're both giant peaks of a vast underwater mountain
range that's part of South America. Fishes from Hawaii are also excluded in
that they hail from the Oceania Realm.

* The list does not include exotic species, although it probably should, and
they will be added-in-a later date.

A fully annotated version of the "NANFA" list is being prepared as a
multi-installment article for American Currents.

If you have any questions about the list, or any comments or corrections,
either email me off list -- ichthos-in-comcast dot net -- or discuss them


Chris Scharpf

"Protecting species is the same intrinsic gesture as preserving the original
documents and constitutions of an entire civilization, or the love letters
of grandparents."
       -- Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

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: Wed Sep 29 2004 - 12:24:17 CDT