Discover Life -- Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific -- General information
SFTEP home Introduction Biology Ecology Zoogeography Features of the system How to use the system Acknowledgments

General information

This provides information on the coverage of the system, a history of work on the systematics of fishes in the region, a section on the zoogeography of the regional fauna, and the biology and ecology of the fishes; plus a user-guide for the system.

Information on fish taxa

Information on the members of the fauna is provided through interlinked species, genus and family pages. Genera and species are ordered alphabetically within each of the families, which are "phylogenetically" arranged. Taxon pages can be accessed by (i) browsing through each level, (ii) from within an expandable systematic tree (optional alphabetic or systematic ordering), (iii) from within a "Book" mode (species within genera within families), or (iv) by user selection of level and taxon from pull-down lists.

Taxon pages

Each Family and Genus page includes: a brief introduction to the systematics, biology and distribution of the family; a text description of distinguishing morphological features; a database map of the taxon's range-limits distribution in the TEP (assembled on-the-fly from distributions of component species); a list of component genera and species with links to their pages; an image of a representative species that has a key-feature overlay indicating diagnostic features of the taxon; a compare similar taxa feature that provides links to the pages of taxa with similar morphology.

Species pages follow the same format as genus and family pages. In addition they include multiple images of dissimilar life-stages (e.g. juvenile, female, male, color morphs); a simultaneous comparison of similar species feature that provides images (with key-feature overlays) of up to 6 species designated as similar by the authors. Species' attribute data in the databases can also be accessed from species pages; these include data on systematics, zoogeographic characteristics (distribution within and outside the region, residency), maximum size, feeding group, diet, depth range, habitat use (salinity, types of substrata, Fishbase habitats) and reproductive mode.

"What-fish-is-that" engine

This tool facilitates identification by both scientific and general users through 4 independent features:

Find-a-fish: This stepwise engine is designed to allow the user to identify an unfamiliar fish by choosing among any or all of the following in any order (with the ability to backup steps) - location (at varying, user-selectable spatial scales on a database map), characteristics of the fish (shape, color pattern, size) and of its habitat (depth, salinity, bottom type etc). Search results are linked to images and taxon pages.

Interactive keys: Illustrated stepwise keys are provided for the genera and species in the two most speciose families in the fauna: Gobiidae (88 species in 27 genera) and Sciaenidae (78 species in 25 genera). Search results link to taxon pages.

Taxon-image comparisons: This allows simultaneous comparison of images of up to 6 families, genera or species selected by the user from pull-down lists. Resultant images are linked to taxon pages.

Common-name search: Searches can be made for families, genera and species from pull-down lists of common names, with results linked to taxon pages.

Maps and lists engine

This engine includes 4 features:

Range-map comparisons: This provides overlaid displays of the regional-ranges of up to 5 taxa (species, genera or families, or a mixture thereof) selected from pull-down lists.

Construction of simple faunal lists: Exportable/printable lists can be generated for locations at scales ranging from individual islands or sections of coastline, through countries and provinces to the entire TEP. Species lists can be arranged alphabetically or systematically. Family and genus lists can be constructed for single locations. A variety of types of Species lists can be constructed using a combination of location plus single species' attributes: These include both single-location lists and lists of species found or not found at two locations.

Regional patterns of species richness: This provides maps with color-coded overlays of patterns of variation in species richness throughout the region, including richness of individual families and richness of species sharing single attributes. These are assembled on-the-fly from species-range maps in the database. Location lists (in alphabetic or systematic order) of family members and species sharing an attribute are available from the richness maps.

Construction of dual-attribute species lists: Exportable species lists can be generated using a combination of one category of endemism plus a category of any other attribute.

Searches of databases on biological and zoogeographic attributes of species

Users can query the databases in three ways:


The library database includes 1,013 citations. These cover primarily the systematics of the fauna but also include references relating to zoogeography, ecology and evolution. Citations are linked to relevant species, genera and families. Exportable lists can be assembled for individual families, genera and species, and by author, date, source, or from a scrollable list of the entire, alphabetically arranged bibliography

Interactive Glossary

A basic glossary is provided that employs images and text explanations of 233 scientific terms relating primarily to morphological characteristics of fishes used in their identification.


The CLOFTEP checklist of fishes of the tropical eastern Pacific, which is an independent unit in the CD, uses a book-style database interface to provide information on the systematics of some 1,400 species of fishes and access to its library.

Contributors and Credits


The image database incorporates 2,852 images. These include 2,202 color photographs that cover 82% of the species in the fauna. A screen-saver presents the color images in a randomized order.

SFTEP home Introduction Biology Ecology Zoogeography Features of the system How to use the system Acknowledgments