The Inland and Coastal Fishes of Louisiana

Much has changed with understanding of Louisiana’s inland fish fauna since publication of Neil H. Douglas’ book Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana in 1974. This book treated 170 species, including 21 marine invaders. A preliminary check of holdings in fish collections of the Tulane University Museum of Natural History and the University of Louisiana, Monroe reveals that the Louisiana fish fauna presently includes at least 195 species (155 primary freshwater and 40 marine invaders). The list has grown through discovery of new species and new distribution records of both native and exotic species. The Louisiana landscape and its streams and rivers have also changed considerably since 1974, and this has no doubt affected fish distribution and abundance patterns. An updated reference on Louisiana’s inland and coastal fishes is long overdue. Our plan is create both printed books and a web site that can be continually updated. The process will start with assembly of a comprehensive database of all Louisiana fish collection records, based on museum holdings (vouchered records) and verifiable records from other sources. The database will be used to identify areas of the state in need of additional field surveys to document fish changes. The next phase of work will involve georeferencing all occurrence records in the updated database, and using the data to produce updated distribution maps, habitat (niche) models for all species, and analyze species abundance/occurrence trends. The niche models and analyses of abundance trends will be especially valuable for assessing the conservation status of species presently on the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program’s rare and protected fishes list, and for identifying other species in need of protection. The final phase of the work will be organizing the task of writing the introductory chapters and recruiting authors for species accounts. We anticipate that the overall project will take 5-10 years to complete. However, we intend to publish a number of intermediate reports during this process, including an updated species list, distribution atlas, and various data analysis summaries, to inform the scientific community and general public of our progress.