Defining Native Ranges of U.S. Inland Fishes

Science Center Objects

Understanding the native versus non-native range of a species can provide useful information about dispersal, population distribution patterns, and human mediated movement across hydrologic barriers. The USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Program is working with partners to define native ranges of inland fishes in the United States to help identify which species should be included in the NAS database. 

Esox americanus (pickerel) subspecies native ranges - USGS NAS Program

Esox americanus (pickerel) subspecies native range as determined by this project

The Science Issue and Relevance: Despite knowing a great deal about species distributions, there is surprisingly no database on the native ranges of conterminous United States and Alaska fishes. Freshwater fishes’ ranges have been dramatically affected by changes in land use and water flow, for example, by damming rivers. It is important to distinguish between a species' native (indigenous) range where it has historically originated and lived and its non-native (nonindigenous) range where a species has more recently established itself. Understanding the native versus non-native range of a species can provide information about dispersal, population distribution patterns, and human mediated movement across hydrologic barriers. This information is also useful for the U.S. Geological Survey Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) database as the native range provides the basis of knowing if a sighting of a fish should be included in the database.


Pylodictis olivaris (flathead catfish) native range - USGS NAS Program

Pylodictis olivaris (flathead catfish) native range as determined by this project

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Native ranges were defined for a subset of fishes selected by the NAS program, with consultation from collaborators from Michigan State University and the U S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program. Fish species selected had to meet certain criteria: fishes must be currently tracked by NAS as native transplants, considered Landscape Conservation Cooperative priority species, and managed by states as a game species. In the first round in 2017, native ranges were defined for 63 species/subspecies. In 2018, the native range of 102 species and subspecies were defined (see Table 1 for full list of species). In 2019, the list includes 65 species.


In order to determine the native range for each species, information generated by NatureServe was used. However, the NatureServe dataset includes both native and non-native occurrences and has many large data gaps. That distribution was enhanced with sample locations from the National Fish Habitat Partnership’s fish dataset, which included aggregated fish community samples from various state and federal agency sampling programs since 1990, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility which integrates numerous museum biodiversity collections. These data were brought into ArcGIS and displayed by eight-digit hydrologic unit codes. The known non-native locations of the species were added from the NAS database. Historical scientific literature, including state fish books, agency reports, and journal publications, was then reviewed to determine the original native range of the species. The defined native ranges went through multiple reviews by NAS scientists. For fishes tracked by the NAS program, the native ranges can be found on the species profile. All native range data for these species will also be made available via an Application programming interface (API) which will be used by U S. Geological Survey Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries.


Future Steps: The NAS program is working on a third installment of the fish native ranges for 2019 and have selected a new set of 65 species using the previous criteria. The third installment of native ranges will be completed by June 2019.


Table 1. List of 2017 and 2018 fish species/subspecies (scientific name) selected for native range identification

Acantharchus pomotis Esox lucius Moxostoma macrolepidotum
Acipenser fulvescens Etheostoma camurum Moxostoma valenciennesi
Acipenser oxyrinchus Etheostoma cragini Nocomis biguttatus
Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi Etheostoma microperca Notropis amabilis
Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus Fundulus diaphanus Notropis girardi
Alosa aestivalis Gila pandora Notropis nubilus
Alosa alabamae Gila robusta Notropis topeka
Alosa chrysochloris Hesperoleucus symmetricus Noturus albater
Alosa mediocris Hybognathus argyritis Noturus exilis
Alosa pseudoharengus Hybognathus placitus Noturus flavus
Alosa sapidissima Hybopsis amnis Noturus miurus
Ambloplites ariommus Hypentelium nigricans Oncorhynchus aguabonita
Ambloplites cavifrons Ichthyomyzon fossor Oncorhynchus aguabonita whitei
Ambloplites constellatus Ichthyomyzon gagei Oncorhynchus clarkii
Ambloplites rupestris Ichthyomyzon greeleyi Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei
Ameiurus catus Ictalurus furcatus Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri
Ameiurus melas Ictalurus punctatus Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii
Ameiurus natalis Lampetra richardsoni Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi
Ameiurus nebulosus Lepomis auritus Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi
Ameriurus brunneus Lepomis cyanellus Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus
Amia calva Lepomis gibbosus Oncorhynchus clarkii seleniris
Anguilla rostrata Lepomis gulosus Oncorhynchus clarkii spp.
Aphredoderus sayanus Lepomis humilis Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias
Archoplites interruptus Lepomis macrochirus Oncorhynchus clarkii utah
Atractosteus spatula Lepomis marginatus Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis
Campostoma anomalum Lepomis megalotis Oncorhynchus kisutch
Catostomus ardens Lepomis microlophus Oncorhynchus mykiss
Catostomus catostomus Lepomis miniatus Oncorhynchus mykiss aquilarum
Catostomus clarkii Lepomis peltastes Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnerii
Catostomus insignis Lepomis punctatus Oncorhynchus mykiss gilberti
Catostomus latipinnis Lepomis symmetricus Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus
Catostomus occidentalis Lota lota Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii
Catostomus tahoensis Luxilus cornutus Oncorhynchus mykiss stonei
Centrarchus macropterus Lythrurus snelsoni Osmerus mordax
Cottus aleuticus Margariscus margarita Perca flavescens
Cottus beldingii Margariscus nachtriebi Percina evides
Cottus cognatus Micropterus cahabae Percina maculata
Cottus hypselurus Micropterus cataractae Petromyzon marinus
Cottus immaculatus Micropterus chattahoochae Phenacobius mirabilis
Culaea inconstans Micropterus coosae (sensu lato) Polyodon spathula
Cycleptus elongatus Micropterus coosae (sensu stricto) Pomoxis annularis
Cycleptus meridionalis Micropterus dolomieu Pomoxis nigromaculatus
Dorosoma cepedianum Micropterus henshalli Prosopium williamsoni
Dorosoma petenense Micropterus notius Ptychocheilus grandis
Elassoma alabamae Micropterus punctulatus Ptychocheilus oregonensis
Elassoma zonatum Micropterus salmoides Pylodictis olivaris
Enneacanthus chaetodon Micropterus tallapoosae Salvelinus confluentus
Enneacanthus gloriosus Micropterus treculii Salvelinus fontinalis
Enneacanthus obesus Micropterus warriorensis Salvelinus malma
Entosphenus tridentatus Morone americana Sander canadensis
Erimystax dissimilis Morone chrysops Sander vitreus
Erimystax x-punctatus Morone mississippiensis Scaphirhynchus platorynchus
Esox americanus Morone saxatilis Scaphirhynchus suttkusi
Esox americanus americanus Moxostoma breviceps Umbra limi
Esox americanus vermiculatus Moxostoma carinatum Xyrauchen texanus


Table 2. List of 2019 fish species/subspecies (scientific name) selected for native range identification

Acipenser transmontanus Fundulus catenatus Notemigonus crysoleucas
Apeltes quadracus Fundulus seminolis Notropis atherinoides
Aplodinotus grunniens Herichthys cyanoguttatum Notropis heterolepis
Astyanax mexicanus Hiodon alosoides Notropis rubellus
Carpiodes carpio Hiodon tergisus Notropis texanus
Carpiodes cyprinus Hybopsis amblops Noturus gyrinus
Carpiodes velifer Hypentelium etowanum Noturus insignis
Catostomus commersonii Hypentelium roanokense Novumbra hubbsi
Catostomus santaanae Ictiobus bubalus Oncorhynchus gorbuscha
Clinostomus elongatus Ictiobus cyprinellus Oncorhynchus nerka
Couesius plumbeus Labidesthes sicculus Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Cyprinella lutrensis Lepisosteus oculatus Percopsis omiscomaycus
Cyprinella spiloptera Lepisosteus osseus Pimephales notatus
Cyprinella whipplei Lepisosteus platostomus Pimephales promelas
Cyprinodon variegatus Lepisosteus platyrhincus Platygobio gracilis
Esox masquinongy Lucania goodei Poecilia latipinna
Esox niger Lucania parva Pogonichthys macrolepidotus
Etheostoma blennioides Luxilus coccogenis Salmo salar
Etheostoma caeruleum Moxostoma anisurum Salvelinus namaycush
Etheostoma exile Moxostoma congestum Semotilus atromaculatus
Etheostoma zonale Moxostoma lachneri Semotilus corporalis
Exoglossum maxillingua Nocomis micropogon