Fishes of Georgia Project
Complete fish books and/or distributional atlases have been published for almost
every state within the southeast. Although Georgia is ranked among the top five U.S. states in richness of freshwater fishes,
this is the first attempt that we are aware of to document distributional data for the freshwater
fish fauna of Georgia. We hope the information provided here will be a resource for government, educational, and
public use and facilitate conservation and research efforts for Georgia fishes.
For this project we attempted to include all fishes that can be encountered within freshwaters of Georgia. We also included a selection of marine fishes that enter freshwater or are commonly encountered within the tidal portions of Georgia's coastal rivers and streams. We designate these as marine species on the species account pages.
All distributional data provided here were developed using museum records and other documented occurrences (primary literature, personal field collections, and state/government field collections). These data were compiled into a database and each collection was georeferenced. Draft distribution maps were then reviewed for accuracy. Questionable occurrence records were verified or eliminated from the database after examining specimens or photographs of specimens. Correspondence with original collectors and museum curators was used to verify records on some occasions.
We chose to use 10-digit HUCs to define the distribution of each species. Providing coarser scale (HUC 8) data would be less useful and finer scale data (e.g. dots or HUC 12 watersheds) would compromise the locations of federal and state listed species. Furthermore, dot maps may be misleading to laypersons who might infer that a species only occurs at the marked locations, when in fact, they occur within many unsampled locations throughout the watershed. For more information on HUCs see the Watersheds of Georgia page. We also chose to only include known occurrences of a species rather than a full distribution based on known and potential occurrences of each species. Although this method will likely underestimate a species range, this method does not make any assumptions about watersheds where a record does not occur. It also helps other ichthyologists identify watersheds where additional sampling may be needed.
Please be aware that these distributions include all records of a species and may not reflect their current distribution. Current distributions may be smaller due to historical records being included or may be larger due to either range expansions or limitations of the data (lack of records).
Currently, the database used to create the distribution maps contains 159,207 unique fish records, within 19,028 collections at 5,930 unique localities. Most of these collections are focused in the northwestern portion of the state where a higher proportion of the state's threatened and endangered species occurs (map to right shows unique collection localities with red circles).
We would like to generously thank all those who have helped with advice on maps, double-checking information, and layout of this website, including Mary Freeman, Deb Weiler, and the many members of the Freeman Lab. We would especially like to thank those people that contributed photos for this effort, including G. Beisser, N. Burkhead, Conservation Fisheries, J. Evans, T. Goodson, S. Harrington, D. Harrison, H. Jelks, A. Kaesar, P. Marcinek, D. Neely, P. O'Neil, K. Owers, M. Pierson, B. Porter, G. Pottern, S. Ross, J. Scanlan, D. Schmitt, D. Scott, C. Skelton, and W. T. Slack.
We would also like to thank those people (groups) who submitted large datasets to help with distribution coverages, including authors of the Fishes of the Middle Savannah River Basin (Barton C. Marcy, Dean E. Fletcher, F. Douglas Martin, Michael H. Paller, Marcel J. M. Reichert), Tennessee Valley Authority, Georgia DNR Stream Survey Team (Patti Lanford), Georgia DNR Fisheries - Standard River/Reservoir sampling (Dennis Schmitt), Georgia DNR Natural Heritage Program, Gerry Dinkins, Florida Museum of Natural History, and William Birkhead.
Many thanks also goes out to those whom have counted scales, counted fin rays, and examined pores, including those at Florida Museumn of Natural History, Cornell, University of Alabama Ichthyological Collection, and Auburn Museum.
This project was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (State Wildlife Grant), the Nongame Conservation Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and The Georgia Museum of Natural History.
-- Carrie Straight, Brett Albanese, and Bud Freeman