Ecology and Conservation of Fishes: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ecology and Conservation of Fishes

1st Edition

By Harold M. Tyus

CRC Press

573 pages | 141 Color Illus. | 258 B/W Illus.

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Written as a stand-alone textbook for students and a useful reference for professionals in government and private agencies, academic institutions, and consultants, Ecology and Conservation of Fishes provides broad, comprehensive, and systematic coverage of all aquatic systems from the mountains to the oceans. The book begins with overview discussions on the ecology, evolution, and diversity of fishes. It moves on to address freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems and identifies factors that affect the distribution and abundance of fishes. It then examines the adaptations of fishes as a response to constraints posed in ecosystems. The book concludes with four chapters on applied ecology to discuss the critical issues of management, conservation, biodiversity crises, and climate change.

Major marine fisheries have collapsed, and there are worldwide declines in freshwater fish populations. Fishery scientists and managers must become more effective at understanding and dealing with resource issues. If not, fish species, communities, and entire ecosystems will continue to decline as habitats change and species are lost. Ecology and Conservation of Fishes has taken a historical and functional approach to explain how we got where we are, providing old and new with a better foundation as ecologists and conservationists, and most importantly, it awakens senses of purpose and need. Past management practices are reviewed, present programs considered, and the need for incorporating principles of applied ecology in future practices is emphasized.


"Overall, this volume offers a very good overview of issues that are now critically important in efforts to maintain both fisheries and the ecosystems that support them and in the efforts to maintain biodiversity. … the examples provided and the overall depth of coverage, along with the engaging writing style, combine to make this a very readable and informative book."

—Susan A. Foster and John A. Baker, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 89, No. 1, 2014

"Tyus (emer., Univ. of Colorado at Boulder) attempts to better educate future fisheries managers and to infuse classic ecological concepts into modern fisheries management. …The author writes in a clear, concise manner and includes case studies to illustrate real-world lessons learned. Because of the content, this book is more appropriate for upper-division or graduate-level courses. However, it could be used in a variety of courses, including environmental science, fish and fisheries science, biology, ecology, and ichthyology. Recommended."

—K. R. Thompson, Ozarks Technical Community College, in CHOICE, May 2012

"Overall, I find the approach to the subject very comprehensive and pedagogically user-friendly for introductory courses in Ecology and Conservation of Fishes. Dr. Tyus has brought his decades of experience to bear on this fine piece of work in a style that should appeal to students, instructors, and professionals."

—Emmanuel A. Frimpong, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

"The contents of a book do not always match the title of the book, but from what I read, this one does so magnificently. Dr. Tyus's early training in academia, his many years in active fisheries field research experiences, combined with his familiarity with the literature, followed by several successful years of teaching at the University of Colorado, Boulder, since his retirement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, make this book unique among other texts or references. Moreover, his organization of and within each chapter is excellent, providing for very interesting reading. The full color plates add great interest to this fine text/reference."

—Walter R. Courtenay, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Zoology, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University

"… has taken a historical and functional approach to explain how we got where we are, providing old and new with a better foundation as ecologists and conservationists, and most importantly, it awakens senses of purpose and need. Past management practices are reviewed, present programs considered, and the need for incorporating principles of applied ecology in future practices is emphasized. Includes a 16-page, full-color insert featuring 141 figures, as well as a glossary, a lexicon of Greek and Latin word roots, and an appendix on fish identification to help students master the text material."

Northeastern Naturalist, December 2012

Table of Contents

Use and Features of the Book

List of Greek and Latin Words


Ecology of Fishes: Content and Scope

History of Ecology

Fish Ecology Explored.

What Is a Fish?

Fish: The First Vertebrate

Evolutionary Ecology of Fishes

Aquatic Evolution, Origins, and Affinities

Aquatic Evolution

Evolutionary Ecology

Origins and Affinities of Fishes

Paleoecology of Fishes

Aquatic Environment

Aquatic Ecosystems.

Properties of Water


Fish in Water: Where is the Gravity?

Fish Diversity

Diversity 1: Chordates to Sharks


From Chordate to Vertebrate

Agnathans: Hagfishes and Lampreys

Conodonts and Ostracoderms

Early Gnathostomes.


Diversity 2: Teleostomes to Bony Fishes

Radiation of Teleostomes

Acanthodians: Spiny Ones

Sarcopterygians: Lobe-Fin Fishes

Actinopterygians: Ray-Fins

Diversity 3: Teleosts

Diversity and adaptation

Lower Teleosts

Cods and Anglerfishes

Higher Teleosts.

Radiations, Extinctions, and Biodiversity

Life on Earth Has Not Been Easy

Fish Extinctions and a Few Questions

Ecological Concepts

Case Study: Fishes of Fossil Lake.

Freshwater Ecosystems

Zoogeography of Fishes

Patterns and Species Diversity

Factors Affecting Distribution


Continental Movement

Fishes of Zoogeographic Regions

Vicariance Biogeography

Pleistocene Glaciation

The Future

Ecological Concepts

Lotic Systems: Flowing Water and the Terrestrial Environment

A Drop of Rain

Flowing Water

Characteristics of Streams

Ecological Concepts

Coldwater Streams

Structure and Function

Coldwater Fishes

Constraints on Trout

Case Study: Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Fishes of Warmwater Streams and Rivers

A warmwater Fish Viewpoint

The Stream Connected

Stream Fishes

Large River Fish Faunas

Case Study: The North American Paddlefish

Lentic Systems: Standing Water

The Drop is Stored (temporarily)

Standing Water Ecosystems

Characteristics of Lakes



Fish in Lakes

Ecological Concepts

Case Study: Lake Baikal

Fishes of Temperate and Tropical Great Lakes


Fishes of temperate Lakes

Fishes of tropical lakes

Case Study: Cichlids of East African Great Lakes

Artificial Lakes and Groundwater Reservoirs

Artificial Lakes: Reservoirs

Structure and Function

Ecological Concepts.

Cumulative Effects

Fish and Reservoirs


Case Study: Death Valley and Devils Hole

Estuarine and Marine Ecosystems

Estuaries and Coastal Zone

Coastal Zone

What are Estuaries?

Drowned River Estuaries

Estuarine Fishes

Ecological Concepts

Estuaries as Nutrient Traps

Case Study: Alewives as Migrating Subsystems

Marine Environments, Intertidal Fishes, and Sharks

Oceanography and Marine Ecology

Intertidal Zone: Structure and Function.

Marine Fishes

Ecological Concepts

Case Study: The Ultimate Marine Predator.

Neritic Province and Fisheries

Inshore Ocean in Perspective

Pelagic Systems

Benthic Systems

Neritic Fishes and the Temperate Zone

Marine Commercial Fisheries

Case Study: Cod and Northwest Atlantic Groundfishery

Oceanic Province and Epipelagic Fishes


Epipelagic Zone


Case Study: Peruvian Anchoveta

Deep Sea: Twilight to the Abyss

Features of the Deep Sea and Its Fishes

Mesopelagic Zone


Deep Benthic and Benthopelagic


Fish Adaptations in the Deep Sea

Deepwater Fisheries

Case Study: Deep-Sea Anglerfish

Ecological Concepts

Fish Adaptation

Fitness, Morphology, and Ecophysiology

Adaptation and Fitness

Fish Morphology and Ecophysiology

Physicochemical Adaptation with Organs

Energy, Metabolism, and Growth

Energy Budgets

Fish Energetics


Growth and Aging

Metabolic Stress

Stress in Fishes

Case Study: Measuring Growth and Age in Hard Tissues

Adaptation, Niche, and Species Interactions


The Niche

Niche Overlap and Response

Species Interactions

Populations, Growth, and Regulation

Fish Populations in General

Present Status of Fish Populations

Population Characteristics

Population Growth

Population Regulation


Carrying Capacity Problem

Commercial Exploitation

Instinct, Learning, and Social Behavior

Why the Interest in Behavior?

Instinctive Behavior and Innate Mechanisms

Biological Clock (biorhythms)

Cognition and Learning

Nonreproductive Social Behavior


Machiavellian Intelligence

How to Study Behavior

Case Study: Behavioral Interactions.

Trophic Concept and Feeding

Trophic Concept

Trophic Cascade

Feeding adaptations

Food and Selectivity

Foraging Behavior and Theory

Case Study: Prey response—A Matter of Humps?

Reproductive Ecology and Life History Patterns

Reproductive Process

Life History Patterns

Reproductive Effort and Energy Allocation

Two Life History Strategies

Reproductive Tradeoffs: R and K Selection and a 3-D Continuum

Case Study: Timing of Spawning


Fish Move, Disperse, and Migrate

Finding the Way Back—Homing

Spawning Migrations

Examples and Descriptions

Oceanadromous Migrations of Atlantic Herring

Case Study: Migration of Colorado Pikeminnow

Larval Fish

Introduction and Importance

Reproduction and early Life

Description and Taxonomy

Larval Ontogeny

Larval Fish Ecology

The Niche Revisited.

Fisheries Ecology and Recruitment Concepts

Case Study—Larval fish movement

Applied Ecology: The Human Factor

Exploitation and Fisheries Management


Historic Perspective

Management Practices

Fisheries: Practices and Problems.

Concepts of Sustainability

Ecosystem Approach

Case Study: Fish Salvage at Tracy.

Future of the Facility

Conservation of Fishes I: Crisis and a Response



Biodiversity Crisis.

Why are Species Presently Going Extinct?

How many Fish Do We Need?

Species Problem

A Response: The New Conservation

Endangered Fish Recovery?

Case Study: Can Science Save the Salmon?

Conservation of Fishes II: Understanding the Decline

Five Causes

Physical Habitat Alteration

Introduced Species



Water Pollution

Are All suspects Guilty?

Case Study: Chesapeake Bay—An Ecological Disaster.

Changes and the Future


Interesting Times

Global Climate

GCC: Effects on Fish and Habitat.

Fish and Fisheries in the Future

Welcome to the Twenty-First Century.

Literature Cited


Appendix -- A Guide to Major Fish Groups


About the Author

Harold M. Tyus is Emeritus Research Scientist at the Center for Limnology, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, where he taught Ecology of Fishes in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He also is an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver, where he teaches and serves as a faculty advisor. Dr. Tyus received his academic training in the Department of Zoology at North Carolina State University, with the aid of a National Science Foundation fellowship and a scholarship from the National Wildlife Federation. He also was affiliated with the North Carolina Cooperative Fishery Unit, earning an MS studying sunfish phylogenetics and a Ph.D. studying population dynamics and migrations of river herring. His minor concentration was in water resources management.

Dr. Tyus is a retired researcher and manager for the U.S. Government, serving 23 years with the Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service. During that time he was involved with environmental impact assessment and studied a wide variety of aquatic habitats, fishes, and human-induced changes in waters of the United States, from east coast oceans, estuaries and wetlands to southwestern desert rivers. He has written and edited numerous scientific papers on fishes and government documents on fish ecology and conservation, including listing and recovery plans for Endangered Species.

He was a member of the Colorado River Fishes Recovery Team for 12 years, and he has been a consultant and science advisor for industry and government. His professional affiliations include the Desert Fishes Council, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and the Society for Conservation Biology. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists and a life member of the American Fisheries Society, which has certified him as a Fishery Scientist and Fisheries Professional.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Animals / General
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Marine Biology