A Capital case for common names of species of fishes--a white crappie or a White Crappie

Author(s): Nelson, Joseph S.; Stames, Wayne C.; Warren, Melvin L.

  • Date: 2002
  • Source: Fisheries, July 2002, vol. 27, no. 7, p. 31-33
  • Station ID: --


Common names of fishes are an important and often primary means of fish biologists communicating with each other and with the public. Although common names will never replace scientific names, they are indispensable in many areas such as fisheries science, management, administration, and education. In recognition of the important role common names play in communicating information about fishes, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) have a long-standing cooperative effort to promote the use of standard common names for species of fishes through the joint Committee on Names of Fishes. The first list of fish names, although not covering all species then known in the United States and Canada, was published in 1948 (Chute et al. 1948). This was expanded in 1960 to include all known species in these two countries (Bailey et al. 1960). The list was revised approximately every 10 years with the last edition being Robins et al. (1991). The next list and the sixth edition is expected to be completed this year and will include the ichthyofauna of Mexico, thus giving a complete list of fishes for all North America. The effort's success is evidenced by use of standard common names in fish journals and by the adoption and routine use of the common names list by many agencies, institutions, and natural resource educators. For example, many publications on fishes only require the use of the scientific name with the standard common name once, and there-after, the common name may be used.

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