Date: 10 September 2002

To: Potential Participants

From: Larry Page, John Lundberg, Mark Sabaj, Carl Ferraris and Jonathan Armbruster

Please respond to all addresses:,,,,


As of 1 September 2002, we have contacted nearly all ichthyologists working on catfish taxonomy. We received positive responses from about 100 individuals in 18 countries (see: Participants_30Aug02.html) We thank you for your generous cooperation, enthusiasm and interest in the All Catfish Species Project.

We are working on the proposal to be submitted to the U.S. National Science Foundation. To complete the proposal we need a second e-mail ("confirmation response") to officially document your participation in the project. Your response will be included as an Appendix to the proposal and will help us budget funds for activities by participants.

Many participants provided detailed information in their first e-mail response. You may repeat this information in your "confirmation response". Also, if you have students or colleagues that wish to participate, please name them in your "confirmation response". We encourage advisors and students (or two or more colleagues) to confirm their participation in a single response.

In your "confirmation response" (requested before 30 September 2002), please:
1. State your overall impression of the project and what it will produce. How important do you believe the project to be?

2. State your willingness to participate in the All Catfish Species Project and name colleagues and/or students also willing to participate.
Examples: "This response confirms that I, ___ and my colleague, ___, wish to participate in the All Catfish Species Project". "This response confirms that I, ___, and my students, ___ and ___, wish to participate in the All Catfish Species Project".

3. Name any catfish families and genera you plan to study during the next 5 years.
If your work is collaborative, please name your collaborators.
See Participants_by_taxa.html for research interests expressed in your first response.

4. Relative to the families or genera of catfishes that you study, how many
undescribed species do you recognize or estimate in each group? Or, what
percentage of species do you believe to be undescribed? If known, when will your descriptions be completed?

See Families.html for our estimates of described
and undescribed species for groups with which we are familiar.

5. A major goal of the All Catfish Species Project is to collect in unsampled regions where a high number of undescribed species may exist. Please suggest regions or drainages where new collections may yield large numbers of undescribed catfishes. If you are involved in a large field project that may provide catfish specimens for study in the next 5 years, please give the title of your project, geographic region(s) covered, and collaborator(s), institution(s) and sponsor(s).

6. Describe any related projects that may benefit from and/or contribute to the All Catfish Species Project.
These may include your work on type catalogs, identification guides, internet sites, imaging projects, etc.

7. What factors most prohibit your ability to describe species? What resources can most assist your ability to describe species?
Examples: funding for field work, visits to museums, and/or students; access to literature and images of type specimens; photographs or illustrations of new species; free publication outlets.

8. Include your title, name(s) of your institution and/or affiliation, and mailing address.

Your "confirmation response" is necessary to verify your participation in the NSF proposal. If you responded before, please do so again with the information above by 30 September 2002.

Thank you very much for your cooperation and support.
Larry Page
John Lundberg
Mark Sabaj
Carl Ferraris
Jon Armbruster

PS: If you wish to review the objectives of the project and how it may benefit your research, please see "Project Overview" and "Correspondences" at homepage
PREVIOUS EMAIL Date: 25 June 2002
To: Potential Participants

From: Larry Page (, John Lundberg (, Mark Sabaj (, Carl Ferraris (, and Jonathan Armbruster (


Greetings: We are preparing a proposal to be submitted to the Biotic Surveys & Inventories Program (BS&I) of the U.S. National Science Foundation and are contacting you to solicit your input and participation in the project.
The objective of the BS&I Program is species-level discovery and description. We are proposing to conduct a five-year inventory that will result in the descriptions of all of the catfishes of the world. Catfishes are selected because they are the most diverse clade of fishes with a worldwide distribution, they are the subject of investigation by a large number of scientists and, as we all know, are extraordinarily interesting organisms. We are contacting you because of your taxonomic expertise on one or more groups of catfishes.

The primary product of this project will be published descriptions of all species of catfishes that currently are undescribed. Additional products will be:
1. A website devoted to catfish diversity that will include a classification of catfishes, digital images of type-specimens coupled with live or well-preserved specimens, identification keys, distribution maps, a searchable bibliography of literature, and information on the project’s participants.
2. An electronic mail listserver to facilitate communication among catfish taxonomists,
3. New collections of catfishes from locations where undescribed species are likely to be found,
4. The training of students and postdoctoral associates in catfish taxonomy and systematics.

In accordance with the objective of the BS&I Program, this project is restricted to species discovery and description. The program requires a high rate of productivity. The ALL CATFISH SPECIES PROJECT will facilitate the independent and original description of many undescribed catfish species already known to experts. It also will result in the discovery and description of unknown species of catfishes through careful review of unstudied catfish specimens already in natural history collections, and through targeted exploration and collecting at locations in South America, Africa and Asia known or expected to harbor diverse catfish faunas. In addition to its own field initiatives, this project will forge mutually productive links with several relevant ongoing or nascent projects of ichthyological exploration of catfish-rich waters.

We plan to develop a method for rapid, peer-reviewed publication of species descriptions at no publication cost to authors or their institutions. All manuscripts accepted for publication will be posted on the project’s web site, where additional images or other material related to the species descriptions can be posted. Some participants also may choose to author catfish pages for the separate web-based Tree of Life; see (
Funds will be available for participants to travel to museums and/or to conduct fieldwork, and for printing costs related to the publication of species descriptions. The project will also sponsor workshops for participants. This project cannot fund studies that are limited to higher-level catfish phylogeny, molecular diversity and evolution, or ecology. Although investigations of these and other aspects of catfish biology are of interest to all of us, they are beyond the scope of the BS&I program.

We seek to be inclusive of taxonomists who are actively working on catfish species and we expect a large number of participants. Toward that end, we invite your participation, and your questions and comments. If you choose to participate, please let us know by July 15 and indicate the catfish genera and families that you work on. We will contact you again about the level of your participation and funding opportunities.

We will involve catfish taxonomists around the world and will appreciate receiving from you a list of catfish taxonomists (including students) whom you believe should be included (see our preliminary list below). Please send us the names, addresses, and email addresses for additional active catfish taxonomists whom you think should be involved and indicate the genera/families of catfishes under study by them.

For those of you attending the ASIH meeting in Kansas City, we will meet as a group from 6-8pm on Friday, July 5, in the Senators Room on the 5th Floor of the Conference Hotel. Please plan to attend and bring your questions and suggestions for the project.

Thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to your active participation in documenting catfish species of the world. We expect this project to generate a huge amount of scientific information on catfishes and to lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of biodiversity. We also are hopeful that ALL CATFISH SPECIES will serve as a model for other all-species global inventories.