Hello, today we’re going to go over how to use FishBase and learn some search strategies and tips to help you search the database. By Andrew Schenck
FishBase is a comprehensive database with information about all kinds of marine life, particularly fish. The information contained in the database is useful for research scientist, fisheries managers, and zoologist. The database contains 32,000 species with 50,000 pictures and images, 291,000 common names offered in hundreds of languages and 45,000 references to works in scientific literature.
FishBase has various ways of searching its database, including searching by the common name (what the fish is most known by), and the scientific name including the genus and species names. There are also various other ways of searching the database for more specific results such as searching for a fish near a country or island. There is also a glossary which can help you with terms found within the database.So, let’s get started by searching a fish by its common name.
If you know the common name of the fish you are looking for, simply type that name in the box and click “Search”. For this example, we will search for “swordfish”.
The return on your search will provide a table of the common name, language, country, species name and type. The Type column identifies the source or use of the common name. AFS refers to the American Fisheries Society, and the FAO refers to the Food and Agriculture Organization. What’s interesting here are the different species names for the common name “swordfish”. The search will return all of the known species and you will find that there are a variety to choose from. You will then click on the species name that corresponds to your swordfish of interest. For this example, I will choose the swordfish identified with the U.S. which is the first result.
After clicking on your species of interest, the next page will provide you with all the information in the database about that species.
Continue to scroll down to find more information including the climate in which the fish lives, the distribution, a brief description, and biology of the fish.
There is lots of information to be found in the record. One point of interest is the reference numbers highlighted in blue. Clicking on the hyperlink number will take you to the source of information.
This isthe source for the previous reference.
If the reference comes from a work of scientific literature, clicking the reference number will take you to a citation of that source.
Here you can see the citation and below there are links to Google Scholar and Scirus, which may contain the article for you to read.
Some other useful information found in the record include: a distribution map that shows where the species is most highly concentrated, and links for more information on the Family name and an Order summary, as well as a full list of references and bibliography on the species. You can use them to explore the scientific literature related to this species.
Another useful tool located on the homepage is the Quick Identification search option. Following these steps will help you to quickly identify a fish you may be studying. From the main page, click on Quick Identification.
You will be prompted to identify the class of fish you are wishing to identify. Images and descriptions are provided to help you in the process. Also note that at the top, you can refine your search by selecting the area where the fish is from, and selecting the country in which it is located. Say for example, I have in my lab what looks to be some type of Stingray found in the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of South Carolina. From the dropdown box I will choose the Atlantic Northwest, and the Country “USA Contiguous states”. Then, I click on the gray box “Sharks & Rays”.
Next, I will be ask to select the “Order”. From inspecting my ray, I can tell that it best fits the “Skates & Rays” image and description below from the list provided. Click the box to continue.
Now I am asked to select the family. Reading the descriptions carefully and comparing images, I conclude that my Ray most closely resembles the Stingray which is the first choice.
From the images provided I conclude that my Stingray is the Bluntnose stingray. I click the species name to verify my information.
Here is the record for the Blutnose stingray. I can verify all my data with the information provided to successfully identify my fish.
This concludes theFishBase tutorial. I hope you have learned a bit of information and can now successfully navigate this database!
FishBase Instructional Aid and Searching Strategies By Andrew Schenck LIS 612
FishBase Comprehensive database with information about fish Useful for research scientists, fisheries managers, and zoologists Contains practically all fish species known to science 32,000 Species 50,000 Pictures 291,100 Common names in hundreds of languages 45,400 References to works in scientific literature
Searching Options Common name Scientific name (Genus, Species, Genus + Species) Glossary Information by Family Information by Country/Island Information by Ecosystem Information by Topic Tools References