Ichthyologist Lost: It's More Than a Position--The Missouri Case

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 11:00 AM
Miller (Statehouse Convention Center)
Robert A. Hrabik , Fisheries Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, Perryville, MO
The state of Missouri has a rich freshwater fish fauna comprising more than 215 species (depending on taxonomic authority). The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the agency having the constitutional authority to conserve and manage the state's natural resources, is widely regarded as a model conservation agency. Beginning in 1961 but ending in 2003, the MDC held a position that functioned in the role of “state ichthyologist,” although the title was not officially in use during much of that time. The renowned ichthyologist, Dr. William L. Pflieger held this position for more than 35 years until he retired in 1997. In this paper, I chronicle the contributions and achievements of Dr. Pflieger and the demise of the “ichthyologist” position in MDC. I will describe what has been lost to the agency and the state of Missouri by the termination of the position, what is being done by the MDC to fulfill our constitutional mandate to the conserve freshwater fish diversity, and speculate upon the future of native fish conservation and management of communities in the shadow of an “ichthyologist lost.”