Addition of Literature and Other Non-vouchered Data Sources

We consider preserved specimens to be the best specimen vouchers for research. However, we are aware that it is not always possible, convenient and/or desirable for individuals to preserve specimens and deposit them in museums. We also recognize that museums have limited resources and space for housing specimens. While our museum-based data provide a very solid historic background, many research and management applications require more recent data, and often lots of it. Other sources of occurrence data can often be useful even if in some cases not verifiable.

We are focusing effort now to develop literature and photo-vouchered occurrence databases. Literature sources, including peer reviewed publications and scientific reports, do not contain verifiable records but nevertheless are a large source of occurrence data often including rare or otherwise biologically important occurrences and in most cases are produced by researchers experienced with the the fish fauna. Photographs are often adequate vouchers for at least specimen identifications, especially for large species, which are often poorly represented in the museum data.


The Fishes of Texas Project is developing a photo-vouchered database of occurrences to complement the specimen based data upon which this project is primarily based. One of the sources for these data is a project we've initiated on iNaturalist, which is a citizen science website dedicated to recording observations (photographs) of species in nature. Those images are georectified and identifications are verified by other users, including FoTX staff, to assure data quality. iNaturalist users are responsible for uploading images along with various data including coordinates (with an estimate of precision), date, and various other information. All data from the iNaturalist site can be downloaded (CSV or KML) from the main project site for use by interested individuals.

Users submitting occurrences to the iNaturalist site are strongly encouraged to provide as much data as possible to maximize usefulness to end users. Any photograph can be submitted, but users are encouraged to submit specimen photos showing a lateral view, with fins erect as well as additional photos of specimen details (fins, head) taken from various points of view (dorsal, ventral, lateral) which can be important for accurate identification.

We encourage anyone with photographs of fish that can be tied to a location and date to join iNaturalist and our project to make those images available to a larger audience and potentially benefit researchers, educators and the general public.

Note to iNaturalist users:  Please be aware of additional unrequired data fields, in addition to the iNaturalist core fields, that if completed would greatly increase the value of the data. These fields become available after completion of the standard iNaturalist entry form. Users submitting observations to this project agree to allow Fishes of Texas full use of the data and associated content, including any photos provided. Photos and data provided may be included as part of our larger Fishes of Texas project database where they will be publicly accessible.

Note to users of data from iNaturalist:  iNaturalist uses a slightly different taxonomy than the Fishes of Texas Project which may affect application of that data when used with data extracted elsewhere in the Fishes of Texas Project. There's lots more to know about data provided by iNaturalist and we strongly encourage users to read the iNaturalist help page.


Here we provide our developing non-vouchered occurrence database derived primarily from published scientific articles, theses, dissertations and various types of reports. Other sources will soon be added as well, such as independently derived research databases submitted by our users. As with our general occurrence database, each record represents an occurrence of a species at a place and time. The only difference being that these records do not represent specimens in a museum and thus cannot be examined for verification. In rare cases there may be museum specimens for these records and eventually we will attempt to identify such records. This database will someday be included as part of our Fishes Texas database and integrated with our museum vouchered data management/delivery system. Once there it will be searchable using the same query tools and more. Until then we make it freely available here and hope that others will contribute data for inclusion (please contact us if you have data sets that could be added to this). We expect this database to fill in many data gaps (temporal and spatial) in the museum vouchered record.

The data are provided below as a downloadable Excel 2010 file. Note that there are two sheets. One contains the raw occurrences (and absences in red as reported by the source) and the other contains the literature sources. The file includes data as described by the cited sources and are not edited in anyway by us except when necessary to fit the format of this table. Data entry comments are provided as necessary to explain any assumptions we made. Absences are not extrapolated by us but are reported by some authors and we include those among the presences. Scientific names are verbatim but when sources fail to include family level information it has been added. County and major basin names were added where author(s) failed to include it in the location information and where the location is specific enough to readily assign these names.
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Dean A. Hendrickson,
Jan 17, 2012, 9:33 AM
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