Research Activities

A submersible used in research activities in the Solomon Islands by curator John Sparks and colleagues.
Curator John Sparks and colleagues use a submersible to study and collect fishes near the Solomon Islands.
Courtesy of J. S. Sparks

The curators, postdoctoral fellows, 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. 

Departmental scientists' research focuses on the phylogeny and biogeography of Recent fishes, classical collection-based revisionary studies, species discovery through a wide array of field projects, and detailed comparative anatomical studies. However, scientists in the Department also have breadth in a number of other aspects of comparative evolutionary biology, including, but not limited to, freshwater and marine conservation, phylogenetic and biogeographic theory, sensory biology, communication in aquatic environments, and molecular evolution. 

The Departmental scientists use a vast range of techniques to address the specific questions being investigated, from traditional histological and comparative anatomical approaches to more state-of-the-art methods based on the analysis of nucleotide sequences, genome evolution, computerized x-ray tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and geospatial applications.

All three curators strongly believe that expeditions and collections are an essential component of ichthyological research. The curators all maintain active field programs and encourage and include their post-docs and students in their fieldwork activities. Please see the Publications and Fieldwork pages for more information. Departmental scientists have described well over 100 new species of fishes, with dozens of additional species descriptions in preparation. See the New Species Gallery for images of many of these newly described fishes.

Scott Schaefer's research

John Sparks's research 

Melanie Stiassny's research 

NSF-Funded Projects 

Astroblepidae Research

Cichlid Hearing: Evolution and Diversification

Congo Project 

Lamprologini Project

Leiognathidae Research

Alepocephaliform Phylogeny