How to Become a FishBase Collaborator... and Why

The chapters of this document are authored by FishBase staff and collaborators

A large project such as that which led to FishBase generates enough credit to share among project collaborators, and FishBase was designed to make explicit the role played by each collaborator.

For example, the chapters of this document are authored by the FishBase staff members and collaborators who have worked with the corresponding tables, data and/or concepts. References to each work from which information was extracted are given in the database, and the names of collaborators are attached to all the records they provided or corrected.

Moreover, three explicit procedures exist in FishBase to give credit to collaborators:

  • colleagues who supply data (in form of reprints, reports, unpublished theses, etc., are listed (via their collaborator number) as ‘Entered:’ on the ‘stamp’ in the ‘Status’ section of the respective records. Also, their name appears in the Acknowledgments section of each FishBase species synopsis;

  • colleagues who verify FishBase products (e.g., synopses, country lists, common names) appear through their number as ‘Checked:’ on the stamp of the respective records, and their name also appears on the last page of FishBase synopses;

  • colleagues who supply a substantial database for distribution through FishBase have their own tables (such as the GENERA table for Eschmeyer’s Catalog of Fishes (1998), INTRODUCTIONS table for Welcomme (1988), or LARVDYN table for Houde and Zastrow (1993).

Furthermore, all collaborators’ areas of expertise, affiliations, contact address and photo (if supplied) are entered in a COLLABORATORS table, enabling FishBase users to contact directly the experts behind tables and their entries.

In addition to the above, we are working on a concept of Coordinators for certain areas such as taxonomic families (see Box 1), ecosystem or countries (see Box 7), and special topics such as relative brain size or swimming mode. Coordinators will have their name shown in the headers of the respective tables and printouts, e.g., ‘Coordinated by _____.’ We are still exploring this concept and invite your comments.

Box 1. An offer to taxonomists.

Keeping track of the status of over 25,000 species in over 500 families is not something that the FishBase Team can do alone. Thus, we would like taxonomists to volunteer to become Taxonomic Coordinators in FishBase for their families of expertise, similar to the approach used in large checklists, such as CLOFFA (Daget et al. 1984), CLOFETA (Quéro et al. 1990) or Smiths’ sea fishes (Smith and Heemstra 1986). We realize that taxonomists are already overburdened with numerous tasks and may not be keen to take on yet another responsibility. We have therefore thought hard about what we can offer to make such collaboration more attractive. We will provide, to each Taxonomic Coordinator:

  • clear and visible credit;
  • 3 copies of FishBase 2000;
  • printouts (text files) in any required format, from checklist to field guide (database publishing);

  • FishBase data, structure, and interface for more specialized CD-ROMs on certain groups, countries, or ecosystems; and

  • contacts for collection trips in many countries (FishBase currently has collaborators in 95 countries and registered users in 157 countries).

We will also attach the coordinator’s name to every record provided, modified or checked.

Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a Taxonomic Coordinator. We will send you a printout with all the taxonomic information completed so far for the species of your family. We will expect you to edit that printout and to provide us with relevant reprints that we may have missed. A FishBase Team member will be assigned as your contact and will make the changes to the database. We will provide you with a password that allows you to edit FishBase directly through the Internet. Please let us know what you think about this offer.


Daget, J., J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde. 1984. Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer, Paris and Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium. Vol. 1, 410 p.

Quéro, J.C., J.-C. Hureau, C. Karrer, A. Post and L. Saldanha, Editors. 1990. Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA). Junta Nacional de Investigaçao Cientifica e Tecnológica, Lisbon, Portugal.

Smith, M.M. and P.C. Heemstra, Editors. 1986. Smiths’ sea fishes. Springer Verlag, Berlin. 1047 p.

Rainer Froese

FishBase on the Web received over 750,000 hits in November 2000

We believe that colleagues who opt to collaborate with us, i.e., opt to see some of their work incorporated into FishBase, benefit because:

  • their published work will reach more people;

  • their work will become integrated into a larger whole, and thus becomes easier to assimilate, while remaining theirs in terms of scientific credit;

  • the integration in FishBase involves checking of at least the scientific names and generally leads to the identification of errors which, while easily corrected, may not have been noticed otherwise; and

  • also, once a publication is linked to a FishBase species, it is automatically updated if the scientific name changes. For example, the many publications written on Salmo gairdneri are now easily found under Oncorhynchus mykiss.

  • The description of various tables in this volume suggests how we plan to improve these tables and their coverage, and hence FishBase. Please contact us if you wish to become one of our collaborators.


Eschmeyer, W.N., Editor. 1998. Catalog of fishes. Special Publication, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. 3 vols. 2905 p.

Houde, E.D. and C.E. Zastrow. 1993. Ecosystem- and taxon-specific dynamic and energetics properties of fish larvae assemblages. Bull. Mar. Sci. 53(2):290-335.

Welcomme, R., Compiler. 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. FAO Fish. Tech. Pap. No. 294, 318 p.

Daniel Pauly