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Ichthyology Department

Massachusetts Freshwater Fish Project

The Annotated List of the Inland Fishes of Massachusetts and the Identification Keys to Massachusetts Inland Fishes are being revised.

The Massachusetts Fish Project was a long term effort to better understand the taxonomy and distribution of Massachusetts fishes that resulted in the publication of Hartel, Halliwell and Launer's Inland Fishes of Massachusetts in September, 2002. When he first arrived at the MCZ in 1975, Karsten E. Hartel reviewed the status of Massachusetts freshwater fishes in the MCZ fish collection and showed that local fishes were under represented in the MCZ collection and other major fish collections. Later he was able to show that knowledge of the taxonomy and distribution of freshwater fishes in Massachusetts was poorly known.

A collecting program to upgrade MCZ holdings was begun and lasted 15 years. The effort involved students from HU Biology 130 and many privately funded week-end long collecting trips across the state. During the mid-1970s, Hartel was often joined by Thomas J. Andrews and Douglas G. Smith of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They began compiling data from the MCZ and University of Massachusetts collections with hopes of producing an accurate distributional checklist of Massachusetts freshwater fishes. However, the project dragged on and Tom Andrews retired and Doug Smith shifted his main interest to the freshwater invertebrates of New England.

During early 1980s, Hartel, was assisted by MCZ graduate student Alan E. Launer who contributed several family sections to the work in progress. Shortly after, through the efforts of the late Peter Oatis of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Hartel was also joined by David B. Halliwell who was then working on his PhD on Massachusetts streams.