A recent study led by Dr. Amanda Hay (Australian Museum Research Institute) and participated by Daniel Pauly (Principal Investigator of Sea Around Us), Nicolas Bailly (Q-quatics/Beaty Biodiversity Museum), Weiwei Xian (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Cui Liang (Chinese Academy of Sciences) proposed a rationale and strategy for the use of museum specimens in estimating the length-weight relationships of less common fish species or those that are hard to find alive in their natural environment. The proof of concept or preliminary results of Dr. Hay and her colleagues involved the measurement of 56 preserved adult specimens of 31 species of fish from the Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia, the Marine Biological Specimen Museum of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, China, and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The LWRs in this paper have been provided to FishBase by Dr. Pauly and entered in FishBase by Mr. Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Reyes Jr. to date.
“FishBase has information for over 30,000 fish species but, of those, only 5,500 have length-weight parameters,” said Daniel Pauly, co-author of the study and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. “This can be improved if researchers in museums and other institutions around the world measure and weigh specimens in their collections and upload the data. This is what we are aiming for.”
“The length-weight relationship of fish, which allow computing the weight from their length, is something marine biologists need for a wide variety of studies. For example, they need them when they are estimating the biomass of certain species by performing visual census either by scuba diving or by using remote observation vehicles or underwater video stations,” said Amanda Hay, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Australian Museum Research Institute.
But some fish like those that live in deep waters are so difficult to reach and observe that a museum sample may be the only known representative of the species. According to Dr. Hay, “this is the reason why it’s so important to ‘extract’ as much information as possible from that sample.”
For fish that are hard to be caught alive by those who study them, their biological traits are usually equated to those of similar species. Using preserved fish specimens will provide more accurate information on these elusive species.
The paper by Hay et al. “The why and how of determining the length-weight relationships of fish from preserved museum .specimens” was recently published in the Journal of Applied Ichthyology.