Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Web-Accessible Database of Standard Fish Sampling Data

January 2010 - December 2024


Participating Agencies

  • National Park Service
Standard methods for sampling North American freshwater fishes - an AFS book project lead by Cooperative Research Unit scientists for the American Fisheries Society resulting in standardization of sampling methods for North American freshwaters.

In 2009, the American Fisheries Society developed standard methods to sample freshwater fish populations, publishing them in the book Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes. The Arizona Unit leader was project lead, which involved over 280 biologists from the United States, Canada and Mexico from over 100 agencies, organization, and universities. This project was supported in part through partnership with the USGS Cooperative Research Units System, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and eight other agency and private partners. In 2019, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and the American Fisheries Society funded a second edition of the book. The 2009 book’s final chapter included summaries of growth, condition, length frequency, and catch per unit effort for fifteen of the most common North American fishes; averaged by ecoregion and rangewide and collected using standard gears. Protection and management of freshwater fishes was enhanced by these data which provided managers with baselines for examination of population trends, population health and other indicators. However, further work was needed – these data were inconvenient to access and use. Therefore, we developed a website and database that accompanied Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes. This website (1) has an online expandable database of standard sampling data for comparison, (2) provides an overview of the standard sampling project, and (3) serves as a repository of comments on the published standard sampling procedures, and (4) uses the PHP-based Drupal framework to make it relatively easy to modify the web application to meet initial application needs and the needs that arise as users test and interact with the system.
The initial database (1) provided on-line summaries of 4,092 data sets of condition, length-frequency, CPUE and growth indices of common freshwater fishes, collected using standard gears, from 42 states and provinces across North America, (2) allowed entry of new data collected using standardized methods, so averages of commonly-used fishery indices can be updated in the future, (3) allowed queries, graphical, and tabular output of the data summaries so they can be easily accessed and integrated into projects across North America. Users are able to compare condition, growth and abundance of fish collected in a particular waterbody with regional and rangewide averages and percentiles, thus increasing resource information in a variety of areas. Generated broad-scale knowledge is useful in the enhancement of fish habitat and populations on both public and private lands. This database served as a small demonstration project by USGS, the USGS Cooperative Research Units and other sponsors, and helped demonstrate the usefulness of other larger efforts to provide continental fisheries data. Now the database tool is being updated through support from AFWA, the University of Arizona and the American Fisheries Society. The update will provide the user with more species to compare, significantly more data, and improved function, with the ability to perform summaries by U.S. state and Canadian province. Programming on the database is currently underway. This data tool is being updated in conjunction with the development of the 2nd edition of Standard Sampling of North American Freshwater Fishes.

Research Publications Publication Date
Bonar, S. A., M. Rahr, T. Torrey, A. Cate Jr., and N. Mercado Silva. 2012. A simple web based tool to compare standard inland fish data. Version 1. American Fisheries Society. Web site and database program. | Publisher Website August 2012