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Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes


September 2004 - October 2017


Standardization in industry, medicine and science has led to great advances. However, despite its benefits, freshwater fish sampling was generally unstandardized, or at most standardized locally. Standardization across large regions allows for measurement of large-scale effects of climate or geography on fish populations; larger sample sizes to evaluate management techniques, reliable means to document rare species; easier communication; and simpler data sharing. With increased interaction among fisheries professionals worldwide, reasons for wide-scale standardization were more compelling than ever. The Fish Management Section of the American Fisheries Society in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, USGS Cooperative Research Units Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, AFS Education and Computer User’s Sections, and Arizona Game and Fish Department developed standard sampling methods for North America. This was the largest such project in the history of fisheries science. Almost 50 United States, Canadian and Mexican fish sampling experts authored a book on the subject. These methods were reviewed by 54 representatives from 33 North American agencies and by biologists from six European and one African country. Final drafts were reviewed by an additional 36 sampling experts. In total 284 biologists from 107 agencies and organizations contributed as authors, reviewers, data providers and sponsors. Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes, was published in 2009, and described standard methods to sample fish in specific environments so population indices can be more easily compared across regions and time. Environments include ponds, reservoirs, natural lakes, streams and rivers containing cold and warmwater fishes. This book provides rangewide and regional averages; calculated from over 4000 data sets from 42 states and provinces; of size structure, CPUE, growth, and condition for common fishes collected using methods discussed. Biologists can use these data to determine if fish from their waterbody are below, above, or at average for an index. These procedures will be useful to those hoping to benefit from standard sampling programs in their regions. Since publication, these methods are being increasingly adopted across North America. Three symposiums at the North American meeting of the American Fisheries Society have been held; and numerous presentations on the techniques throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada have been given. Furthermore, keynotes have also been invited and presented in the United Kingdom, South Korea and the Czech Republic discussing the techniques. Publications concerning this work since 2016 have been published in Fisheries, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, and Freshwater, Fish and the Future: Proceedings of the Global Cross-Sectoral Conference at FAO, United Nations, Rome. Now a 2nd edition is underway with unanimous support from the Fisheries Management Section of the American Fisheries Society. Other collaborators on this edition are being sought, and publication date is slated at 2020-2021.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Bonar, S. A., and W. A. Hubert. 2002. Standard sampling of inland fish: benefits, challenges, and a call for action. Fisheries 27(3):10-16.
  • Bonar, S. A., and A. Didenko. 2003. Standard sampling of desert fish: benefits, recent progress, and a call for action. Proceedings of the Desert Fishes Council 34th Annual Meeting, San Luis Potosi, SLP, Mexico
  • Bonar, S. A., W. A. Hubert, D. W. Willis. 2009. Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. 459 pp.
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  • Bonar, S. A., D. Willis, and W. Hubert. 2005. Standard sampling methods for North American freshwater fishes. 135th American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Anchorage, Alaska, September 11-15
  • Bonar, S.A., W. Hubert, D. Willis, M. Brouder and A. Iles. 2005. Standard sampling methods for North American freshwater fishes: Averages and standards for commonly used fisheries indices. Desert Fishes Council. Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila, Mexico, November 16-20, 2005. CONTRIBUTED.
  • Bonar, S.A., Alison Iles, D.W. Willis and W.A. Hubert 2006. Standard Sampling Methods for North American Freshwater Fishes. Presented to the Arizona-New Mexico Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Flagstaff, Arizona. February 2-4. CONTRIBUTED.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 238

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 54

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 673

Scientific Publications: 1905

Presentations: 4236



Funding Agencies

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey