Definitive, illustrated book cataloguing RI's 70+ freshwater fish species would appeal to anglers, nature lovers, scientists, and students
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that Inland Fishes of Rhode Island, a comprehensive illustrated book detailing the 70+ species of fish found in Rhode Island's ponds, streams, and rivers, is currently available for purchase at DEM offices in Providence and West Kingston. The handsome volume – researched and written by a career DEM biologist – would appeal to scientists, students, anglers, and nature lovers alike, and make a welcome addition to a research facility or home library as well as a terrific holiday gift.
Published by DEM in 2013, it is a definitive, first-of-its-kind scientific work. Written by biologist Alan D. Libby and illustrated by New Bedford artist Robert Jon Golder, the 287-page book has descriptions and illustrations of each species of fish found in Rhode Island's freshwaters during surveys conducted by DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife from 1993 to 2012. Detailed characteristics used to identify each species are presented, along with habitat descriptions, life history information, and a distribution map for each species. Precise illustrations of each fish, in color and black and white, aid with identification.
"DEM biologist Alan Libby has spent a good part of his career surveying hundreds of rivers, streams, and ponds across Rhode Island to produce this scientific compilation of fish species found in our waters," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Rhode Island hosts a remarkable diversity of freshwater fish species, and we are pleased to make this book available for people to learn about our fishes' habits and habitats. Inland Fishes of Rhode Island, with its stunning and scientifically-precise illustrations, is a cool book and a great read!"
Libby has worked as a principal freshwater biologist for DEM for the past 31 years, focusing on surveying the freshwater fishes of the state. He has surveyed more than 377 ponds and stream segments throughout Rhode Island, often returning to the locations several times during multiple years. Although he surveys using a variety of sampling techniques, Libby mainly samples by electrofishing. It is a common scientific survey method using direct current electricity flowing between a submerged cathode and anode. The electrical current affects the movement of the fish so that they swim toward the anode where they can be caught. When performed correctly, electrofishing results in no permanent harm to fish, which are returned to the wild soon after being caught. Libby describes the methodology he used for the surveys at the start of the book.
From 1993 to 2012, Libby collected than 72 species of fish representing 34 families. Of these, 32 species of freshwater fish – representing 21 native and 11 introduced or non-indigenous species – were sampled. In addition, more than 30 species of fish that regularly or occasionally spend parts of their lives in both fresh and saltwater were collected. The Pawcatuck River has the widest diversity with 67 species of fish, followed by the Blackstone River basin, with 31 species. The Pawcatuck River's greater diversity is the result of it having fewer dams to obstruct the movement of fish in and out of the river.
The American eel and the largemouth bass were the most commonly occurring fish species. They were found in more than half of the localities surveyed, in all 10 of the state's watersheds, and in both stream and pond locations. Pumpkinseed, bluegill, chain pickerel, wild brook trout, and brown bullhead also were widely distributed, appearing in more than a third of the localities sampled and in at least nine of the state's 10 drainage basins. In more recent years, Libby has discovered several new species of fish, some of which are considered invasive exotics such as the rock bass and green sunfish.
Libby worked closely with artist Robert Jon Golder on the illustrations gracing the book. Golder's meticulous attention to details such as fin ray counts, scale size, and body proportions and his vivid color plates are apparent in every image.
Published by DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife, Inland Fishes of Rhode Island is being sold for the special price of $18.75, including tax. It may be purchased in person at the DEM Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence by cash, check, or credit card (credit card requires an extra fee) and at the Division of Fish and Wildlife Field Headquarters in West Kingston, by check or money order only. For questions or additional information, call the Providence office at 401-222-6647 or the Great Swamp Headquarters in West Kingston at 401-789-0281. The book also may be purchased through the mail using the order form located at: www.dem.ri.gov/bookorder.
Funding for the book was provided from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Sport Fish Restoration Program.
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