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Fish Atlas Maps of New York


Fish distribution maps are a valuable and necessary part of conservation and management work. However, the only maps for New York's inland fishes, from 1985, are becoming outdated. Up-to-date maps allow workers to better complete field assessments and to identify range extensions and species extirpations. They are also useful to anglers, naturalists and others interested in our water resources. We have developed updated maps for this purpose, and they accompany the other most recent watershed inventories with species lists, published in 2004.


The species distribution maps provided on the following pages are meant to stand alone. Our goal in generating the 179 maps was to provide information on the current distribution of each species of inland fish by recording each documented collection as a point on the map. However, fish ranges are dynamic and, for many species, rarely hold constant over long periods of time. Extirpations of small populations, range expansions and contractions due to habitat modification, introductions, and invasions all force changes in our understanding of the range of any particular species. To provide a feel for change, the points are coded on all maps as follows:

  • a circle if the capture date is before 1977 (early or pre 1977), and

  • a dot if captured 1977 or later.

This should allow any reader to assess gross changes in range over time. The text accompanying each map summarizes the habitat, native range and the status of a species. The 18 watersheds of NY are shown below (Figure 1) and are the basis for comments about species gains or losses of distributional range.

Documentation for the points on the maps is scattered among state agency records, museum catalog records, university collection records, gray literature (including government and private reports, master's theses and doctoral dissertations), and published accounts. There will be a companion document published in an online journal in 2015 (NYSM Record) with details on species distribution. It will be a lengthy series of annotations about each fish within each watershed. Like the maps shown here, it will be a product of a joint effort by D. Carlson (DEC) and R. Daniels (NYS Museum, retired).

Map of New York State watersheds
Figure 1: Watersheds of New York used by NYSDEC and this map series.

Fish Images

Most of the fish art work comes from the old biological surveys of New York State conducted from 1926 to 1939 by the Conservation Department (the predecessor to today's New York State Department of Environmental Conservation), as painted by Ellen Edmonson and Hugh Chrisp. Their initials are on their drawings. Art work as done by other artists is credited under the images.

    Fish Families

    Freshwater Eel
    Herring (including Alewife and shads)
    Minnow and Carp
    New World Silverside
    North American Catfish (including bullheads and madtoms)
    Perch (including Walleye and darters)
    Pike (includes pickerels and Muskellunge)
    Pirate Perch
    Sunfish (including Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass)
    Temperate Bass (including White Perch and Striped Bass)
    Trout (including salmon and whitefish)