Checklist of vertebrates of the United States, the U.S. territories, and Canada

Resource Publication 166

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On 30 January 1980 the Policy Group of the 1978 Interagency Agreement on Classifications and Inventory established a work group on fish and wildlife species names. The participating agencies were the Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Geological Survey, and Soil Conservation Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service was assigned the role of establishing and leading this work group in developing a national list of standard vertebrate species names that is up-to-date and accurate. The Association of Systematic Collections was contracted to develop the reference list. This publication is a revision of portions of the list (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), including updating to the end of 1985.

The geographic areas encompassed by this list are: the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Navassa Island; the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (the Caroline Islands, Palau Islands, Marshall Islands, and northern Mariana Islands); and the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, the Johnston Islands, Kingman Reef, the Midway Islands, and Wake Islands. Canadian species that do not also occur in the United States have been included.

This list includes the names of all Recent species known to occur, or to have occurred, in the geographic areas indicated above. No distinction is made between resident and migratory species or between those that occur regularly and those of casual or accidentally occurrence. The occurrence of all species listed is documented by specimen or photographic evidence. Zoo, aquarium, game park, and hunting preserve populations are not listed, nor are unestablished escapes from such populations. Species that are extinct are marked with a 1. Species whose only occurrence in an area is the result of introduction by man are marked with a 2. Species introduced into one area but native to another covered by this checklist do not have a superscript, nor do species for which the documentation of introduction is equivocal. Species listed as Endangered or Threatened (as of January 1987) throughout their ranges are marked with a 3, whereas species with only selected subspecies or populations so listed are marked with a 4. Refer to the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR) for further details on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and its requirements.

The list includes the scientific names and English names of taxa from order to species. At the level of genus and above, more than one English name may be given; this is to indicate content, not alternative names. English (common or vernacular) names for species vary from region to region and from author to author. The name "gopher", for example, has been applied to kinds of animals as diverse as pocket gophers, ground squirrels, and turtles. Most species have names in other languages as well as English names, and some species lack generally accepted English names. A single English name is given for each species in this list to promote uniformity and to permit more precise communication among users. Accurate communication about species can be assured only by using the scientific names, including their authors and date.

We provide an "exploded" illustration (Fig. 1) of a typical portion of the list and identify the elements of each citation.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Checklist of vertebrates of the United States, the U.S. territories, and Canada
Series title:
Resource Publication
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
ii, 79 p.