A collection of essays on nature, naturalists, and the natural history of fishes in central Appalachia. A nature lover’s paradise, central Appalachia supports a diversity of life in an extensive network of waterways and is home to a dazzling array of fish species. This book focuses not only on the fishes of central Appalachia but also on the fascinating things these fishes do in their natural habitats. An ecological dance unfolds from a species and population perspective, although the influence of the community and the ecosystem also figures in the text. Stuart A. Welsh’s essays link central Appalachian fishes with the complexities of competition and predation, species conservation, parasitic infections, climate change, public attitudes, reproductive and foraging ecology, unique morphology, habitat use, and nonnative species. The book addresses a selection of the families of central Appalachian fishes, including lampreys, gars, freshwater eels, pikes, minnows, suckers, catfishes, trouts, trout-perches, sculpins, sunfishes, and perches. These essays often refer to the works of naturalists who contributed to our knowledge of nature during previous centuries and who recorded their discoveries when science writing was less concise than it is today. Although many of these works are nearly forgotten, these early naturalists built a strong knowledge base that supports much of our current science and thus merits reexamination. Most people are not scientists, but many have an interest in nature and are, in their own way, naturalists. This book is for those people willing to peer beneath the water’s surface.
Stuart A. Welsh is a fisheries research scientist with the US Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Unit Program and an adjunct professor of ichthyology at West Virginia University, where he focuses on graduate education and research. He has published over eighty peer-reviewed papers in scientific publications. Some of his favorite pastimes are spending time with family, fishing, playing guitar, writing songs, and riding a cyclocross bike.
“Stuart A. Welsh has produced an excellent contribution … treating a taxonomically broad subsampling of the diverse Appalachian fish fauna in this book. It affords readers an excellent opportunity to get to know these species and the families they represent in up close and personal detail through user friendly discussions and illustrations.”', Wayne C. Starnes, coauthor of The Fishes of Tennesse
'“Several states have field guides to fishes that help identify species. Stuart A. Welsh’s book takes the reader to another level by way of his personal experiences with some of the area’s most fascinating species. This exceptionally readable book will appeal to professional biologists as well as lay naturalists.”', Thomas K. Pauley, coauthor of Amphibians and Reptiles in West Virginia
'“With reader friendly stories crafted from his own experiences and published research findings, Stuart A. Welsh helps us peek under the surface. Northern Pike hunt from self-created silt screens; Brook Trout benefit from long-term relationships with eastern hemlock trees; and male Fantail Darters sport a dorsal fin with fleshy knobs, which mimic eggs, which attract females. Welsh’s book will appeal to various curious folks—fishers, paddlers, riffle-sitters—who’ll never look at a stream the same way again.”', George Constantz, author of Hollows, Peepers, and Highlanders: An Appalachian Mountain Ecology
'“This book will help the average person understand and appreciate these enigmatic animals via fabulous photos and illustrations, and a mixture of soft and hard science.”', Daniel Cincotta, fish biologist, West Virginia University and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources