NANFA-- Virginia book review

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 03 Nov 2000 16:45:26 -0400

Since it appears non-AFS members CAN order the book for $10, I suggest that
you order it yourself. If that fails, then send me the money and I'll order it
for you.

Here's my mini-review of the book, from the Winter 1996 (actually 1997) AC:

Had James Michener written a fish book, I can't imagine it being any bigger or
more sweeping than Freshwater Fishes of Virginia by Robert E. Jenkins and Noel
M. Burkhead (1994, American Fisheries Society, 1,079 p., $85 hardcover). It
begins, in true Michener fashion, at the beginning, with a history of Virginia
ichthyology from the earliest settlers (1584) to the present. It continues with
sections on drainages, physiography, biogeography, fossil fishes, collection,
field photography and anatomy. Then it spends the bulk of its pages studying the
210 species that inhabit Virginia waters in exhaustive detail. The amount of
work that went into it is truly amazing. In addition to countless hours spent in
the field (the authors went on a combined 1,160 collecting trips), are days and
weeks spent in museums analyzing specimens, and in libraries researching not
just the usual scientific journals, but also angling and aquarist magazines,
including American Currents). The bibliography alone runs 87 pages and includes
over 2,800 entries. Not that the entire book is culled from other sources. Much
new information is provided, including previously unpublished observations on
the nest-building behavior of the bull chub (Nocomis raneyi), and the spawning
behavior of the Carolina (Etheostoma collis) and ashy (E. cinereum) darters.
Even a new species is formally described, the duskytail darter (Etheostoma
percnurum Jenkins). The authors also contribute what may well be the first
practical and reliable key to sculpins of the genus Cottus, one of the most
taxonomically tangled groups in North America. It's an instant ichthyology
classic, and a must-have for anyone who collects and keeps fishes not just from
Virginia, but anywhere in the Southeast.

Christopher Scharpf

"The secret of life is to have a task....And the most important thing is -- it
must be something you cannot possibly do!"
Henry Moore, sculptor

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