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Media Review:

Copeia: Official Publication of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists

Bob Fenner  

Copeia is the name of a scientific quarterly journal offering articles on many topics of interest to serious hobbyists. Note I said serious, not high-brow, or super-intelligent. Though this journal is penned and formatted in proper scientific jargon, most all pieces are readily understandable to the advanced aquarist; and with a dictionary, to all.

Topics include ecology and ethology (behavior), genetics, development and morphology, physiology and physiological ecology, as well as news, notes, book reviews and general articles on the studies of fishes, reptiles and amphibians.

The very useful format of these papers involves a concise Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion and Literature Cited. The Abstracts are fast and easy outlines to scan for the gist of the piece. The Introduction gives the background of the "problem" or question at hand. Through Materials and Methods you gain an understanding of how the investigators went about their work. Results is what they found. The Discussion section provides the authors interpretation of what they observed. Literature Cited gives credence and continuity to the "flow" of recorded facts, theories, practices and attitudes, and guides for further reference.

What sort of contents are we talking about? Rivulus immaculatus, a New Killifish from Venezuela, Three New Species of the Genus Plesiops ("salt-water Bettas"), Demographics and Genetic Characteristics of Multiply Inseminated Female Mosquitofish, Estimated Tooth Replacement Rate in Captive San Tiger Sharks, are a sampling of partial titles from the No. 2, 1991 issue.

Through my twenty five years in the business of ornamental aquatics, twelve years of college and lifelong hobbyist interest I have been ofttimes amused, incredulous and frustrated at the lack of connection between the hobby, science and industry of aquaristics. There is simply no reason for this apparent alienation. All aspects can and do benefit from borrowing/using each other and should/will grow to do more so. As hobbyists, I encourage you to expand your horizons, depth of experience by perusing scientific journals. There are many that offer good, concrete, useful info. for the advanced aquarist. You will be amazed at what is state-of-the-art science that you already have notions about.

Are these journals inaccessible, expensive, available only to scientists? Nay, nay, nay. If you have the interest and the money, you may subscribe directly. Rates vary: regular and foreign $35.00, students $20.00. Submit to American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Business Office, Dept. of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois 62901-6501. Large libraries and Colleges with Science Departments probably have Copeia for your use in print or microform. Call and ask, or better still visit and talk with the people involved. As citizens (taxpayers) you support them and they are there to help you. Reference Librarians in the Science Section are especially useful.

Copeia is one of many scientific publications, among others dealing with fish disease, nutrition, husbandry, classification...Check them out; they are accessible, written in scientific but understandable English, and chock-full of abstract and applicable knowledge.


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