MMNS Ichthyology Collection

The Ichthyology Collection is the largest of the biological collections housed at MMNS with the earliest material dating back to 1888. The majority of the holdings represent freshwater species; however, the collection does contain representative material from marine and estuarine habitats. Total holdings of the MMNS Ichthyology Collection contain over 52,000 cataloged lots, which is represented by over 750,000 individuals, 700 species, 90 families and 34 orders. Geographic representation of the material includes 27 states and five countries (Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines and USA). The collection contains 5,920 lots (13% of total holdings) representing material collected during the statewide WPA survey period (1936-1941) under the technical supervision of Ms. Cook. The holdings within the Ichthyology Collection were a primary resource for Cook's 1959 treatise, "Freshwater Fishes in Mississippi", and Stephen T. Ross' 2001 updated volume, "Inland Fishes of Mississippi".



Holdings within the Ichthyology Collection are almost entirely fluid preserved, although a small comparative osteology collection is maintained, which includes dried skeletal material and cleared and stained specimens. In 2003, we began building a tissue collection for use in molecular based projects.  This collection presently contains 1176 lots and represents 203 species. These holdings are being used, in part, to support our own specific projects but are available to any researcher upon request. Growth of the Ichthyology Collection has been substantial during the past 10 years with the collection nearly doubling in size since 1998. This growth has been promoted by the deposition of voucher specimens from numerous state and federal agencies (e.g., MDEQ, USGS, TVA and USFS), the acquisition of the former MSU Ichthyology Collection, and by the incorporation of material stemming from MMNS-based research activities.

Contact Matt Roberts



Significant Holdings
The collection includes substantial holdings (1068 lots of 42 species) of both federally and state listed endangered species or regionally recognized species of concern. These holdings include federally listed species such as the Gulf sturgeon, Pallid sturgeon and Bayou darter; candidate species including the Alabama shad and Pearl darter; and Mobile basin endemics such as the Fluvial shiner and the Silverside shiner whose populations were impacted by the construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. In addition, the collection includes one lot of type material (paratype:  slackwater darter, Etheostoma boschungi).

Various holdings within the MMNS Ichthyology Collection are of notable significance. These include:

  • The former Mississippi State University (MSU) Ichthyology Collection, which contains the most complete collections from the Tombigbee drainage prior to the completion of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in 1985 and other under-represented species from Mississippi. Construction of the waterway converted the Tombigbee River from a free-flowing river to lake-like environment and provided an effective corridor for faunal transfers between the Tennessee and Mobile drainages. Thus, these specimens are irreplaceable as the faunal composition of the Tombigbee River was changed dramatically following the completion of the project.
  • Comprehensive Pearl darter (Percina aurora) collections obtained during the surveys of the Pascagoula, Leaf and Chickasawhay rivers from 2000-2004. Pearl darter collections resulting from these surveys provide the most complete representation of this rare species from the Pascagoula drainage. They also provided valuable information on assemblage structure and trends of occurrence of fishes in the Pascagoula River system. This information is especially important considering that the Pascagoula Rivers is noted as the only large river in 48 contiguous states that has not been impacted by channel fragmentation or flow regulation. 
  • Regional collections from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Quality Assessment program (NAWQA) which is a national program developed to assess water quality conditions throughout the United States by evaluating and monitoring attributes of the fauna within each study region. 


Current Focus

  • Computerization of original written catalogues (85% complete)
  • Georeference locality information for all specimens in the collection (75% complete)
  • Convert collection from 55% isopropanol to 70% ethanol (60% complete)
  • Process backlog material  

View a "List of Fishes" that have been documented in Mississippi's inland and coastal waters.


Links of Interest 


Publications of Interest