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Byron 08-15-2011 08:16 PM

Dr. Joseph S. Nelson (1937-2011)
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The world has lost a giant in the field of ichthyology. Dr. Joseph S. Nelson passed away on August 13, 2011, at the age of 74. To quote one headline, “he taught the world about fish.”

Dr. Nelson was an outstanding ichthyologist with well over 100 publications to his credit. His most widely-known is undoubtedly the monumental book, Fishes of the World, a scientific, comprehensive review of all families of fishes, fossil and recent, contained in an eclectic classification that has become a world standard for fish classification and an invaluable source for information about the diversity of fishes. First published in 1976, Fishes of the World is now in its fourth complete revision (2006)and is a basic reference work cited by every leading ichthyologist.

Since 2002, Dr. Nelson had been Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Previously, he served as chair and associate chair of zoology at the University, and served as an associate dean for the faculty of science for six years. He was active in many international organizations including the Society of Systematic Biologists, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, European Ichthyological Union, Canadian Society of Zoologists, Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, American Fisheries Society, and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; on the latter he served on the board of governors for twelve years. Four species of fish are named in his honour. He received many awards and recognitions, and the last that was offered to him during his life will be posthumously presented in September—an award for conservation from the American Fisheries Society.

In 2007, the renowned explorer Heiko Bleher wrote of Dr. Nelson: “To me he is the most outstanding ichthyologist living. His work over the last 40 years with his four editions of the Fishes of the World, always updated to the latest knowledge we have on the largest living group of vertebrates, is the most important (and only) reference today, for teachers of biology, ichthyology, taxonomy and for all researchers of fishes. Joseph has the knowledge to recognize 515 families of fishes, and the relationships of more than 28,000 living fish species.”

For further information on Dr. Nelson and a list of his many publications, visit:

Beaches 08-16-2011 04:16 AM

Such a sad loss!!!! He will be greatly missed!!!

R.I.P..... Dr. Joseph S. Nelson!

Romad 08-16-2011 04:18 AM

He sounds like quite the guy. RIP Dr. Nelson.

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