Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

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 are from 1985. They are becoming outdated.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. They accompany the most recent watershed inventories with species lists, published in 2004.


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

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 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.

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.

Atlas of Inland Fishes of New York

The complete "Atlas of Inland Fishes of New York," (Link leaves DEC's website) published in 2016, is available on the New York State Museum website.

    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)