Central Arkansas Fish (WSJCANC)
Participants will learn how to identify fish species by careful observation of fish anatomy and biology. They will learn how fisheries biologists use a protocol to distinguish among fish species.
4 - 12
Indoor or outdoor classroom
Witt Stephens Junior Central Arkansas Nature Center, Little Rock
Education Coordinator, 501-907-0636
45 - 60 minutes
Suggested Number of Participants:
10 - 30
- Identify common fish species by using a dichotomous key.
- Learn to observation and examine.
- Recognize how fisheries biologists use fish ID in management work.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)
Amendment 75 of 1996
Central Arkansas Nature Center (CANC)
Dichotomous fish key
*See glossary for definations
Arkansas fishing regulations guidebooks
Dichotomous keys of Arkansas fish
“Fishes of Arkansas” books
Preserved fish specimens and examination pans
Taxidermy mounts of fish
Arkansas has more than 200 fish species. Many fishing regulations in Arkansas apply to specific fish, so it is important for anglers to recognize fish they catch. Fishermen look carefully at the body shape, color, fins and other characteristics of fish to identify them.
- Introduce yourself and the CANC. Explain that it is owned and operated by AGFC and showcases the agency’s mission. Also tell how Amendment 75 of 1996 funds paid for the facility and allow free admission.
- Split the participants into groups at tables. Distribute fish specimens and/or taxidermy mounts, examination pans, fish keys, “Fishes of Arkansas” and fishing regulations guidebooks. Explain how to use the dichotomous fish key and have each group identify its fish. Groups may exchange fish and continue the exercise if time permits.
- Overview how fisheries biologists manage using their knowledge of fish anatomy. Explain that Arkansas has more than 200 fish species and many resemble each other, making identification critical for fisheries biologists.
- Distribute a printout of publications and websites that have more information on fish identification. Teachers can assign individual species for research reports or papers at schools.
- Elementary children can do the word search puzzles.
- Why is it important for fishermen to correctly identify fish they catch? (Regulations must be followed by exact species in most cases.)
- Why must fisheries biologists distinguish among species? (They sample populations and recommend regulations to ensure that each species remains in balance.)
• Arkansas Big River System Fish Word Search
• Arkansas Game Fish Word Search
• Key to the Fish Families of Arkansas
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) – the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife
Dichotomous fish key – a method of identifying fish by observing and answering a series of questions about anatomy
Fish anatomy – the internal and external physical components of the body; used to identify species by distinguishing characteristics
Fish identification – the process of properly noting a fish species by observing anatomical characteristics
Fisheries biologist – a scientist who studies and manages wild fish populations
Fisheries management – the scientific guidelines and procedures used by fisheries biologists to accurately provide for healthy fish populations
Fishing regulations – the set of legal rules and restrictions that govern taking fish by recreational or commercial methods
Taxidermy mounts – preserved fish specimens for display purposes; usually—but not always—done on sportfish caught by anglers