NANFA-- Re: geo.extent of NA

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 02 Dec 1999 23:16:51 -0400

I'm going through some old email and realize I left this question from DasArm

>I had no idea zoogeography played such a definitive role in determining what
>constituted true NA fauna or that there was a faunal region to make that
>determination,especially there are subtropical and (I think) tropical areas
>in the southern US and northern and central Mexico and the ranges of Neartic
>sunfishes and minnows and Neotropical cichlids and characoids overlap there.

I'm no expert on this, but I wouldn't call any areas in the southern US
"tropical." Despite generally warmer weather, the deep south is still temperate.
Heck, they get snow down there every once in a while. I remember it snowing in
Miami once!

> I think that it would be useful for perusers of NANFA's web
>page to have a section defining the zoogeographical boundaries of NA fishes,
>as I think most NA enthusiasts probably don't realize this.

That's a TERRIFIC idea! Maybe NANFA Webmeister Jay DeLong can help put something
together on this (in addition to his zillion other duties). Jay, you have the
ZOOGEOGRAPHY OF NA book, right? Maybe you can do a point & click map of NA's
faunal regions.

BTW, these regions, or provinces, from north to south, are:

* Yukon/Mackenzie Province (Alaska & Bering Sea drainages)
* Arctic Archipelago Province (large islands north of Canada's mainland)
* Hudson Bay Province (north-central US and most of Canada)
* Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Province (Great Lakes, St.Lawrence River drainage,
Atlantic drainages in Quebes, labrador & Newfoundland)
* Northern Appalachian Province (Atlantic coastal drainages south of the
St.Lawrence river through the Delaware River)
* Cascadia Province (west coast, west of Continental Divide, north of Columbia
R. basin, south of Stikine R.)
* Mississippi Province (all parts of US & Canada drained by the Mississippi,
Missouri & Ohio Rivers)
* Central Appalaichan Province (Atlantic Slope from Susquehanna R. drainage to
the Edisto R.)
* Southeastern Province (from Savannah R. on te Atlantic Slope to Lake
Pontchartrain on the Gulf Slope)
* Colorado Province (the Colorado River basin)
* Great Basin-Baja-Klamath-Sacramento Province (west coast from Oregon to Baja
* Western Gulf Slope Province (Gulf Slope drainages from the Calcasieu R. to the
Nueces R.)
* Rio Grande Province (sections of Texas and Mexico historically connected to
the Rio Grande)
* Sonoran-Sinaloan Coastal Province (NW corner of Mexico along Pacific Slope to
Rio Grande de Santiago)
* Central Mexican Province (from the Rio Panuco to the Rio Papaloapan on the
Atlantic Slope and the Rio Grande de Santiago to the Rio Verde/Atoyac on the
Pacific Slope)

This info. comes from Burr & Mayden, Phylogenetics and North American Freshwater
Fishes, 1994.

> Do you know if any other NA fish organizations or individuals disagree with
this definition of
>true NA fishes?

NANFA has no "official" definition of North America. But serious ichthyologists
and organizations -- like the American Society of Ichths. & Herps. -- would go
for the one given here. I only brought it up because a) I'm anal about such
things :-) and b) it leads to a new and interesting way to look at North America
and how its life forms are distributed.

It's convenient to think that a dividing line between North and South America
occurs somewhere in what we call Middle or Central America. This may be an
oversimplification, but zoogeographers have basically drawn that line where
minnows -- the most speciose family in North America -- no longer occur.

I hope this helps...and that at least one person out there found it as half as
interesting as I do!

Chris Scharpf

/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,