This project draws from specimens already in the Royal BC Museum to document historic introductions in this province and builds on publications produced by the Royal BC Museum and decades of externally published peer-reviewed research to maintain a current list of fish species that have appeared in our province. Information on new species and extreme range records detected in the future will be published and added to the updated species list for BC produced by G. Gillespie, and the list for the entire west coast of North America by M. Love.
New species described by science are relatively rare, but are a source of increased diversity. Sometimes “new” species stem from taxonomic changes, where known species are found to include multiple distinct species and are split up. This can result in an increase in recorded diversity if all of the new species are in our region. Recent examples include the new snailfish Careproctus ambustus, split from C. melanurus in 2020, and Spectrunculus crassus, split from S. grandis in 2008. The publications supporting this Research Portal stream will continue to capture taxonomic splits and new species descriptions.
Our survey trips with DFO will continue, with trips in 2021. The Fishery Observer Program will continue to collect fishes from the commercial fishery and Archipelago Marine will transfer them to the museum. In addition, new fishes will be found by beachcombers, anglers and divers, and if not reported directly to the museum, these will come to our attention through iNaturalist reports for BC.
With climate change and the recent frequency of warm surface water in the eastern North Pacific Ocean, I expect that warm-water fishes will continue to move north and their appearance here will need to be documented. These records will be published in traditional scientific serials, but they will also be announced online in blog and Research Portal articles. It is probable that climate warming will increase the diversity of fishes known to exist in BC, with cool-water fishes moving north or descending to deeper water as warm-water-adapted fishes move north. For each new species, we will record when we think they have made the transition from merely straying into BC waters to reproducing here.
Presently, we have two peer-reviewed papers in preparation, one announcing the appearance of spotted porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix) in BC waters and another documenting the appearance of nine species and five significant range extensions in our region. In addition, information from these publications is being incorporated into the faunal synopses by G. Gillespie and M. Love. These two synopses are living documents that will grow with time.