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Fish Atlas Maps of New York

Fish distribution maps are a valuable and necessary part of conservation and management work, as they allow scientists 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.

Atlas of Inland Fishes of New York

The Atlas of Inland Fishes of New York (PDF) (leaves DEC site), published in 2016, is available on the New York State Museum website. The users of this atlas, whether they are anglers, naturalists, or professional scientists, are provided with several resources to determine where a specific fish species has been known to occur in the state throughout the past and present.


Map of New York State watersheds
Watersheds of New York used in this map series.

Our goal in generating the 179 species distribution 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 in 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.