Catfish Science: Status and Trends in the 21st Century
Thomas J. Kwak, Mark T. Porath, Paul H. Michaletz, and Vincent H. Travnichek
Abstract.—Catfish science, the study of the fish order Siluriformes, is a diverse and expanding field in terms of advances and breadth of topics. We compiled literature from primary fisheries journals as an index of interest and advances in catfish science to examine temporal trends in the field. The number of catfish scientific publications varied over the past century with strong peaks during 1975–1979 and 2005–2010, which may be the result of interactive scientific and societal influences. Catfish biology was the predominant publication topic until the late 1990s, when ecology, techniques, and management publications became more prevalent. Articles on catfish ecology were most numerous in both the first and second international catfish symposia, but publications on techniques and conservation were more numerous in the second catfish symposium than the first. We summarize the state of knowledge, recent advances, and areas for future attention among topics in catfish science, including sampling and aging techniques, population dynamics, ecology, fisheries management, species diversity, nonnative catfish, and human dimensions, with an emphasis on the gains in this second symposium. Areas that we expect to be pursued in the future are development of new techniques and validation of existing methods; expansion of research to less-studied catfish species; broadening temporal, spatial, and organizational scales; interdisciplinary approaches; and research on societal views and constituent demands. Meeting these challenges will require scientists to span beyond their professional comfort zones to effectively reach higher standards. We look forward to the coming decade and the many advances in the conservation, ecology, and management of catfish that will be shared.