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Book reviews

and Agriculture (FAO) species identification sheets for fishes, which have been widely
distributed to fisheries workers (and others) throughout the world.
Many changes may be expected when this list is eventually updated (presumably
around the year 2000), far more than will be true for the North American checklist. The
perceived importance of some species will diminish, others will assume increased importance, and continuing scientific research will result in still other changes. Knowledge of the
taxonomy and distribution of fishes from other regions of the world is at a much lower
level than for North America, and newly described species from such areas will probably
provide the largest source of additions.
Although the list does not purport to include all species in each family, for some of the
smaller families all known species are listed. Professional ichthyologists should fred this
very useful. Aquarists, sportsmen, commercial fishermen, law enforcement officials, and
laymen in general have previously been forced to rely on information from widely scattered sources, particularly academicians. Answers to many of the questions asked of
professional ichthyologists can now be found here.
Based on the situation noted previously for the North American checklist (see
companion review - ed.), errors may be anticipated here as well, although lack of space
prevents discussion of specifics. Drs Robins and Bailey will presumably publish such a list
of corrections together with the one on North American fishes.
The committee responsible for this publication should be commended for their effort,
particularly when one considers that this was not simply a matter of updating an earlier
list, as was the case with the North American checklist. Although I do not consult this as
frequently as the North American fish list, I nevertheless have found it to be extremely
useful on a number of occasions. I highly recommend its purchase.
CARTER R. GILBERT

Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, USA

Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th
edition (American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20)
C. Richard Robins et al. (AFS Committee on Names of Fishes)
American Fisheries Society,Bethesda, MD, 1991
ISBN 0-913235-70-9 (cloth, $32 US), 0-913235-69-5 (paper, $24 US), ISSN 0097-0638
Pp. vi + 183
Available from American Fisheries Society,5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 110, Bethesda, MD
20814-2199, USA

This represents the fifth edition of the common and scientific names checklist, the first
edition of which was published in 1948 and for which updated versions have subsequently appeared at approximately ten-year intervals. Although published by the American Fisheries Society, the work is really a combined effort of the AFS and the American
Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
This publication purports to provide an accurate, up-to-date checklist of common and
scientific names for all described and taxonomically valid fish species (including established exotics and extinct native forms) living in fresh and marine waters of North
America north of Mexico. The maximum depth for included marine species is 200
metres, which represents the average depth limits for the outer edge of the continental
shelf. Another goal of the list is to provide stability to common names of North American

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fishes, a factor that is particularly important to sportsmen and commercial fishermen, to


whom fishes are generally known only by their common names. Benefits to scientists
include current information on the taxonomy and nomenclature of various species and a
source for data for biogeographers, to whom comparisons of the composition and
numbers of species from different parts of the world are extremely important.
Although the North American fish fauna is by far the best known for any comparably
sized geographic area in the world, continued research and exploration have resulted in
constant changes or additions to the list, as a result of range extensions, new species
descriptions, or new taxonomic findings. The net trend has been constantly upward: 2428
species appear in the 1991 list, compared with 2268 in 1980, 2131 in 1970, and 1872 in
1960 (the 1948 list [570 names] was a truncated version that included only the more
common or economically important species). Of the current total, 713 (29%) are species
of permanent or temporary freshwater occurrence, 45 are foreign exotics, and 17 are
extinct.
The fish classification appearing in the second edition of Nelson's (1984) Fishes of the
World has been followed throughout. Classes of fishes are listed in phylogenetic sequence, beginning with the jawless vertebrates (hagfishes and lampreys), continuing with the
chondrichthyans (sharks, skates, rays and chimaerids), and ending with the osteichthyans
(bony fishes). Within these classes, orders and families also appear in phylogenetic sequence, but within the families, genera and species are listed alphabetically. Although
subspecies are normally not listed, an exception was made for Esox americanus.
Occurrence of a species is indicated by the capital letters F, A, or P, with the first
denoting species of freshwater occurrence and the latter two indicating marine species
found in either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Additional symbols (I or X) are used for
introduced or extinct species, respectively. The index is well organized and allows the
reader to locate easily a species or higher taxonomic group (order or family) under
various combinations of common and scientific names. There is also an alphabetical list
of families in the front of the publication, with the pages indicated where each appears.
The scientific usefulness of the checklist has increased with each edition. Especially
important is the appendix, first introduced in the third (1970) edition, which included
explanations for nomenclatural or taxonomic changes; this has been retained in subsequent editions. Innovations in the 1991 checklist include the year of original description
for each species, and additional appendices with (a) an annotated list of the more
important bibliographic references involved in determination of original description
dates, (b) detailed information on exotic species, and (c) a list of common names associated with certain important hybrids.
In a list such as this, it is inevitable that situations will arise for which arbitrary decisions are necessary. This is particularly true regarding recognition of genera (probably the
most subjective of all taxonomic categories), and in this regard a conservative approach is
evident throughout the checklist. The authors were aware that not all will agree with their
decisions, and they address and discuss (usually convincingly) these controversial situations in the first appendix. Having said this, I nevertheless find it necessary to cite three
cases (others could be mentioned) with which many ichthyologists are in strong disagreement. One concerns continued retention of the pygmy sunfishes (genus Elassoma) in the
family Centrarchidae (page 47), despite considerable evidence that they are only distantly
related to centrachids (Branson and Moore 1962, Avise et al. 1977, Johnson 1984,
Humphries and Lauder 1985). The second involves retention of the alligator gar in the

194

Book reviews

genus Lepisosteus, rather than in Atractosteus (page 15), despite numerous morphological differences and abundant evidence indicating these two phylogenetic lines to be well
differentiated by the Cretaceous period, 75 million years ago (Wiley, 1976; also see
Fink's 1978 review). Finally, six species of Pomacentridae have been retained in Pomacentrus (page 57), despite widespread agreement among authorities that all western
Atlantic species once placed in this genus instead belong to the genus Stegastes (Allen
1975, Emery and Alien 1980).
The main criticism of the checklist involves the surprising number of errors (37 at
present count), most involving dates of description (in two cases different dates appear
for species described in the same publication!), and others some aspect of authorship or
misspellings of genus or species names. Since these errors were found during a relatively
limited examination of the checklist, one may unfortunately anticipate others. Plans are
for Drs Robins and Bailey to publish a list of errata in upcoming issues of the journals
Copeia and Fisheries. Readers should be alerted to these, so that they can make the
necessary corrections in their own copy.
The above criticisms should not be construed as detracting from the overall value of
the checklist, and the committee responsible for its publication should be highly
commended for the time and effort involved in its preparation. I can attest to its usefulness, since it (or an earlier edition) has always been on my desk and has been consulted
almost on a daily basis throughout the years.
References
Allen, G.R. (975) Damselfishes of the South Seas. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications. 240 pp.
Avise, J.C., Straney, D.O. and Smith, M.H. (1977) Biochemical genetics of sunfish. 4. Relationships
of centrarchid genera. Copeia 1977(2), 250-58.
Branson, B.A. and Moore, G.A. (1962) The lateralis components of the acoustico-lateralis system
in the sunfish family Centrarchidae. Copeia 1962(1), 1-108.
Emery, A.R. and Allen, G.R. (1980) Stegastes; a senior synonym for the damselfish genus Eupomacentrus; osteological and other evidence, with comments on other genera. Rec. West. Aust.
Mus. 8(2), 199-206.
Fink. W.L. (1978) Review of: The Phylogeny and Biogeography of Fossil and Recent Cars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae), by E.O. Wiley (Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist., Misc. Publ. 64). Copeia
1978(2), 374-7.
Humphries, J.M. and Lauder, G.V. (1985) Sunfish phylogeny, outgroups, and percomorph systematics, pp. 78-9 in Abstr. 65th Ann. Meeting, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Knoxville, Tenn. (unpublished) 144 pp.
Johnson, G.D. (1984) Percoidei: development and relationships, in Moser, H.G. and Richards, W.J.
eds. Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. Am. Soc. Ichthyologists, Spec. Publ. 1, ix + 760 pp.
Nelson, J.S. (1984) Fishes of the World, 2nd edn. New York: John Wiley & Sons. xv + 523 pp.
Wiley, E.O. (1976) The Phylogeny and Biogeography of Fossil and Recent Cars (Actinopterygii:
Lepisosteidae). Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 64, 1-111.
CARTER R. GILBERT

Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, USA