The curators, post-docs, students, staff, and associates of the Department of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History work to discover, document, and explain the diversity of the world's fishes. The majority of the published work done by this group of scientists focuses on systematic ichthyology: the reconstruction of the evolutionary histories of fishes, revisionary studies, species descriptions, and anatomical studies. In addition to these more traditional goals, the scientists in this Department have also published on other aspects of ichthyology and conservation, including studies ranging from freshwater conservation, sensory biology, macroevolution, and molecular evolution.

An assortment of AMNH Ichthyology publications.
An assortment of AMNH Ichthyology publications.
Courtesy of T. R. Vigliotta


Alvarez, F.,J. Arroyave, and E. Sosa. 2018. La increíble fauna de las cuevas inundadas de Yucatán. Capítulo del libro Cenotes y grutas de YucatánMérida: Editorial CEPSA/SEDUMA Yucatán. 

Chiozzi, G., M.L.J. Stiassny, G. De Marchi, A. Lamboj, M. Fasola, and C. Fruciano. 2018. A diversified kettle of fish: phenotypic variation in the endemic cichlid genus Danakilia of the Danakil Depression of northeastern Africa. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 124 (4): 690–705. [DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/bly085]

Divakaran Prathapan, K.,R. Pethiyagoda, K.S. Bawa, P.H. Raven, P.D. Rajan, ...J.S. Sparks, S., ... et al. 2018. When the cure kills—CBD limits biodiversity research. National laws fearing biopiracy squelch taxonomy studies. Science 360: 1405– 1406. 

Gruber, D.F., B.T. Phillips, L. Marsh, and J.S. Sparks. 2018. In situ observations of the Meso-Bathypelagic Scyphozoan, Deepstaria enigmatica (Semaeostomeae: Ulmaridae). American Museum Novitates 3900: 1–14. 

Kuang, T., L. Tornabene, L. Jingyan, J. Jiang, P. Chakrabarty, J.S. Sparks, G.J.P. Naylor, and L. Chenhong. 2018. Phylogenomic analysis on the exceptionally diverse fish clade Gobioidei (Actinopterygii: Gobiiformes) and data-filtering based on molecular clocklikeness. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 128: 192–202. 

Mamonekene, V., A. Ibala Zamba and M. L. J. Stiassny.  2018. A new small barb (Cyprininae: Smiliogastrini) from the Louesse, Lekoumou (upper Niari basin), and Djoulou (upper Ogowe basin) rivers in the Republic of Congo, west-central Africa. American Museum Novitates No. 3917: 1-16.

Ravelomanana, T., L. Máiz-Tomé, W. Darwall, C. Sayer, and J.S. Sparks. 2018. The status and distribution of freshwater fishes. In: L. Máiz-Tomé, C. Sayer, and W. Darwall (editors), The Status and distribution of freshwater biodiversity in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands Hotspot. IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, Global Species Programme: 13–28. Cambridge, UK: IUCN in collaboration with IUCN Gland, Switzerland. 

Sparks, J.S., and T. Ravelomanana. 2018. Freshwater fishes of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands Hotspot IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2018–2. <> 



Arcila, D., G. Orti, R. Vari, J.W. Armbruster, M.L.J. Stiassny, KKo, M.H. Sabaj, J. Lundberg, L.J. Revell, and R. Betancur-R. 2017. Genome-wide interrogation advances resolution of recalcitrant groups in the Tree of Life. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 0020. [DOI: 10.1038/s41559-016-0020] 

Alter, S.E., J. Munshi-South, and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2017. Genome-wide SNP data reveal cryptic phylogenetic structure and history of hybridization in a rapids-adapted clade of cichlids from the Congo River. Molecular Ecology 26: 1401–1419. 

Chakrabarty, P., B.C. Faircloth, W.B. Ludt, C.D. McMahan, T.J. Near, A. Dornberg, J.S. Albert, J. ArroyaveM.L.J. Stiassny, L. Sorenson, and M.E. Alfaro. 2017. Phylogenomic systematics of ostariophysan fishes: ultraconserved elements support the surprising non-monophyly of Characiformes. Systematic Biology 66 (6): 881–895. [DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syx038] 

Chiozzi, G., M.L.J Stiassny, S.E. Alter, G. De Marchi, Y. Mebrathu, B. Asmamaw, M. Fasola, and A. Bellati. 2017. Fishes in the desert: mitochondrial variation and phylogeography of Danakilia (Actinopterygii: Cichlidae) and Aphanius (Actinopterygii: Cyprinodontidae) in the Danakil Depression of northeastern Africa. Mitochondrial DNA, Part A, 29 (7): 1025–1040. [DOI: 10.1080/24701394.2017.1404043] 

Day J.J., A. Fages, K.J. Brown, E.J. Vreven, M.L.J. Stiassny, R. Bills, J.P. Friel, and L. Rüber. 2017. Multiple independent colonizations into the Congo Basin during the continental radiation of African Mastacembelusspiny eels. Journal of Biogeography 44 (10): 2308–2318. [doi: 10.1111/jbi.13037] 

Drew, J.A., C.S. Moreau, and M.L.J Stiassny. Digitization of museum collections can improve researcher diversity. 2017. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1: 1789–1790. [DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0401-6]

Harrison, I.J., J. Arroyave, N. Lujan, and J.F. Craig. 2017. Correct procedure for uploading information on new taxonomic names to ZooBank (Editorial). Journal of Fish Biology 90: 1167–1169. 

Linardich, C., G. Ralph, K., Carpenter, N. Cox, D.R. Robertson, H. Harwell, A. Acero P., W. Anderson Jr., J.Lvan Tassell, et al. 2017. The conservation status of marine bony shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. [doi: 10.2305/IUCN.CH.2017.RA.1.en] 

Martinez, C.M. and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2017. Can an eel be a flatfish? Observations on an asymmetrical heterenchelyid eel from the Guinea coast of West Africa. Journal of Fish Biology 91(2): 673–678[DOI: 10.1111/jfb.13365/full] 

Martinez, C.M., andJ.S. Sparks. 2017. Malagasy cichlids differentially limit impacts of body shape evolution on oral jaw functional morphology. Evolution 71(9): 2219– 2229. [doi: 10.1111/evo.13298] 

Milá, B., J. van Tassell, J.A. Calderón, L. Rüber, and R. Zardoya. 2017. Cryptic lineage divergence in marine environments: Genetic differentiation at multiple spatial and temporal scales in the widespread intertidal goby Gobiosoma bosc. Ecology and Evolution 7(4). [doi: 10.1002/ece3.3161] 



Ceriaco, L.M.P., et al. (493 co-authors, including J. Arroyave, L. Prendini, J.S. Sparks, and M.L.J. Stiassny.) 2016. Photography-based taxonomy is inadequate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful for biological sciences. Zootaxa 4196 (3): 435–445. 

Davis, M.P.,J.S. Sparks, and W.L. Smith. 2016. Repeated and widespread evolution of bioluminescence in marine fishes. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0155154. 

Dunton, K., A Jordaan, D. Secor, C.M. Martinez, T. Kehler, K. Hattala, J. van Eenennam, M. Fisher, K. McKown, D.O. Conover, and M. Frisk. 2016. Age and growth of Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus, in the New York Bight. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 36, 62-73. 

Gruber, D.F., E.R. Loew, D.D. Deheyn, J.P. Gaffney, W.L. Smith, M.P. Davis, J.H. Stern, D. Akkaynak, V.A. Pieribone, and J.S. Sparks. 2016. Biofluorescence in catsharks (Scyliorhinidae): assessment of elasmobranch fluorescence with relevance to visual ecology. Nature Scientific Reports 6: 24751. 

Harrison, I.J., R. Brummett, and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2016. Congo River Basin. In M. Finlayson, G.R. Milton, R.C. Prentice, and N.C. Davidson (editors), The Wetland Book: Distribution, Description and Conservation. Springer. 

Ibala Zamba, A., V. Mamonekene, E. Vreven, and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2016. Rehabilitation of Xenocharax crassus Pellegrin, 1900 (Teleostei: Distichodontidae), a species endemic to the Congo basin in central Africa. Ichthyological Explorations in Freshwater 27(4): 347–354. 

Martinez, C.M., F.J. Rohlf, and M.G. Frisk. 2016. Re-evaluation of the morphological diversity of batoid pectoral fins: consequences for locomotion and lifestyle. Journal of Morphology 277(4): 482–493. 

Martinez, C.M., F.J. Rohlf, and M.G. Frisk. 2016. Sexual dimorphism in sister species of Leucoraja skate and its relationship to reproductive strategy and life history.Evolution & Development 18(2): 105–115. 

O'Leary, S.J., C.M. Martinez, H. Bauman, D. Abercrombie, D.O. Conover, G.R. Poulakis, C.H. Murray, K.A. Feldheim, and D.D. Chapman. 2016. Population genetics and geometric morphometrics of Key silversides, Menidia conchorum, a marine fish in a highly fragmented inland habitat. Bulletin of Marine Science 92(1): 33–50. 

Pezold, F., R.C. Schmidt, and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2016. A survey of the fishes of the Geebo- Dugbe River confluence, Sinoe County, Liberia, with an emphasis on tributary creeks. Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 22(3): 97–122. 

Phillips, B.T., D.F. Gruber, G. Vasan, C.N. Roman, V.A. Pieribone, and J.S. Sparks. 2016. Observations of in situ deep-sea marine bioluminescence with a high-speed, high resolution sCMOS camera. Deep-Sea Research I 111(2016): 102–109. 

Phillips, B.T., D.F. Gruber, G. Vasan, C.N. Roman, V.A. Pieribone, and J.S. Sparks. 2016. First evidence of bioluminescence on a “Black Smoker” hydrothermal chimney. Oceanography 29(2): 10–11. 

Stiassny, M.L.J., T. Liyandja, and R.J.C. Monsembula Iyaba. 2016. A new small barb (Cyprininae: Smiliogastrini) from the N’sele and Mayi Ndombe Rivers in the lower reaches of the middle Congo basin (Democratic Republic of Congo). American Museum Novitates 3848, 1–15. 

Stiassny, M.L.J., and H. Sakharova. 2016.Review of the smiliogastrin cyprinids of the Kwilu River (Kasai Basin, central Africa), revised diagnosis for Clypeobarbus (Cyprinidae: Cyprininae: Smiliogastrini) and description of a new species.  Journal of Fish Biology 2016 DOI:10.1111/jfb.12901

Stiassny, M.L.J. 2016. (review of) Fishes. A Guide to their Diversity. Hastings et al. (2014), University of California Press. Systematic Biology 65(1): 178–179. Tornabene, L., J. van Tassell, J., D.R. Robertson, and C.C. Baldwin. 2016. Repeated invasions into the twilight zone: evolutionary origins of a novel assemblage of fishes from deep Caribbean reefs. Molecular Ecology 25(15). [doi: 10.1111/mec.13704] 

Tornabene, L., J. van Tassell, R.G. Gilmore, D.R. Robertson, F. Young, and C.C. Baldwin. 2016. Molecular phylogeny, analysis of character evolution, and submersible collections enable a new classification of a diverse group of gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Nes subgroup), including nine new species and four new genera. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 177(4): 764–812. [doi:10.1111/zoj.12394] 

Tornabene, L., J.L. Van Tassell, D.R. Robertson, and C.C. Baldwin. 2016. Repeated invasions into the twilight zone: evolutionary origins of a novel assemblage of fishes from deep Caribbean reefs. Molecular Ecology 1–21.

Wilmé, L., P.O. Waeber, F. Moutou, C. Gardner, O. Razafindratsima, J.S. Sparks, C.A. Kull, B. Ferguson, W.R. Lourenço, P.D. Jenkins, L. Ramamonjisoa, D.A. Burney, and P. Lowry II. 2016. A proposal for ethical conduct in research in and on Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation and Development 11(1): 36–39. 

Winemiller, K.O., M.L.J. Stiassny, et al. 2016. Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong, basin-scale planning is needed to minimize impacts in mega-diverse rivers. Science 351(6269): 128–129. 



Alter, S.E., B. Brown and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2015. Multi-locus phylogeny reveals convergent evolution in lower Congo River spiny eels. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2015) 15:224 DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0507-x 

Chakrabarty, P., and J.S. Sparks. 2015. Formalizing the names of subfamilies and tribes of ponyfishes (Teleostei: Leiognathidae). ZooTaxa 3964(2): 298–299. 

Fedrizzi, N,M.L.J. Stiassny, J.T. Boehm, E.R. Dougherty, G. Amato, and M. Mendez. 2015. Population genetic structure of the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) in Florida. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0132308. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132308.

Gruber, D.F., and J.S. Sparks. 2015. First observation of fluorescence in marine turtles. American Museum Novitates 3485: 1–7.

Gruber, D.F., G.P. Gaffney, S. Mehr, R. DeSalleJ.S. Sparks, J. Platisa, and V. Pieribone. 2015. Adaptive evolution of eel fluorescent proteins from fatty acid binding proteins produces bright fluorescence in the marine environment. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0140972. 

Martinez, C.M.,J. Arroyave, and J.S. Sparks. 2015. A new species of Ptychochromisfrom southeastern Madagascar (Teleostei: Cichlidae). ZooTaxa 4044: 79–92. 

Mehr, S., A. Verdes, R. DeSalleJ.S. Sparks, V. Pieribone, and D.F. Gruber. 2015. Transcriptome sequencing and annotation of the polychaete Hermodice carunculata (Annelida, Amphinomidae). BMC Genomics 16: 445. 

Parenti, L.R. and Stiassny, M.L.J. 2015. Obituary, Rosemary Helen Lowe-McConnell (1921-2014), Honorary Foreign Member in Ichthyology. Copeia 104(2): 607–609. 

Sparks, J.S., and P. Chakrabarty. 2015. Description of a new genus of ponyfishes (Teleostei: Leiognathidae), with a review of the current generic-level composition of the family. ZooTaxa 3947(2): 181–190. 

Stiassny, M.L.J. and Kaufman, L.S. 2015. Rosemary Lowe-McConnell, obituary. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 98, 1719–1722. DOI:10.1007/s10641-015-0409-1. 

Stiassny, M.L.J. and Alter, S.E. 2015. Phylogenetics of Teleogramma, a riverine clade of African cichlid fishes, with a description of the deep-water molluskivore – Teleogramma obamaorum – from the lower reaches of the middle Congo River. American Museum Novitates, 3831, 1-18.