Fish illustrations: how and why


A good fish illustration cannot be replaced by a thousand words. Visual perception of complex shapes and arrangements is not completely translatable into verbal or mathematical language. If the intention is to convey the maximum possible morphological information about a fish, there must be both picture and text. A fish illustration may also serve purposes other than simply as a record of detailed morphology. An illustration may be intended purely for diagnosis; i.e., in order to show how to distinguish one species from others in that taxon or that geographic region. If so, it may be most effective if it emphasizes only those features that are diagnostic, and minimizes all other morphological information. Another purpose of zoological illustration may be to convey ecological information; the background can include typical food organisms, or vegetation, or associated species. (The technique has been applied more successfully to terrestrial animals than to fish. In Figure 1 the artist embellished the background, but added little to our knowledge of the fish.) Illustrations may also convey ethological information (e.g., display or locomotion). Or, fish illustrations may be intended as art, with or without scientific content. This rough categorization of purposes into informational, diagnostic, ecological, ethological, and decorative, must also admit that an illustration usually serves more than one purpose. A first-rate

DOI: 10.1007/BF00001838

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Cite this paper

@article{Lindsey2004FishIH, title={Fish illustrations: how and why}, author={Casimir C. Lindsey}, journal={Environmental Biology of Fishes}, year={2004}, volume={11}, pages={3-14} }