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The "Fishes of Pennsylvania" is certainly not a new subject. Edward D. Cope (1881) and Tarleton H. Bean (1892) authored early inclusive accounts of the fishes from Pennsylvania. Henry W. Fowler authored multiple reports and annotated lists focused on the fishes of Pennsylvania, culminating in A List of the Fishes Recorded from Pennsylvania, published in 1940. Dr. Edwin L. Cooper authored the commonwealth's first regional reference book, Fishes of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States, published in 1983. In the intervening years between then and now, a wealth of information has become available due to the authors' efforts and those of many others.
After nearly twenty years in the making, Dr. Jay R. Stauffer Jr. (Pennsylvania State University), Robert W. Criswell (Pennsylvania Biological Survey), and Douglas P. Fischer (Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission) have attempted to present comprehensive and current information with a mixed audience of researchers, fisheries professionals, and sportsmen and -women in mind. Each freshwater and migratory species regularly occurring in Pennsylvania received a full species account, in addition to family and genera accounts. The species accounts contain descriptions of identifying characteristics (including dichotomous keys), colour photographs of each species, coloured distribution maps organized into three time periods, biological and ecological information, a conservation status summary, and additional remarks, where appropriate. The book's chapters provide a description of the history of ichthyology in Pennsylvania, the waterways of the commonwealth, the origin of the fish fauna, introduced fishes, conservation efforts, the study of fishes, basic anatomy, characters and methodology for identification, collection techniques, photography, videography, and sport fishing opportunities (the latter guest-authored by John Arway, PFBC Executive Director). Rob Criswell's vibrant colour photography has been used liberally throughout The Fishes of Pennsylvania. The formatting and layout are well thought out and easy on the eyes. Illustrations by Nevin Welte (PFBC and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy) also adorn many pages where pictures were unavailable or unable to capture characters which an artist can clearly present.