Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “fish”

Missouri Fish and Wildlife Information System

Missouri Fish and Wildlife Information System – http://mdc7.mdc.mo.gov/applications/mofwis/Mofwis_Summary.aspx?id=0700019

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What fish could I find in a cave in Missouri?
  • What sort of birds could I find in Boone county?
  • What could be found basking on a rock?

Description:

Contains information about more than 900 Missouri species. Photographs are included for approximately 75% of the species. Searchable by taxonomic group, common name, scientific name, county, primary habitat association, status, life history or habitat variable.

There are literally dozens of possible habitats to choose from, but in my view some of the ones of possible interest to writers are:

  • Cave – I thought I’d only find bats through this search, but came up with various kinds of fish, salamanders and snails as well.
  • Grassland – native prairie – This search could give you a feel what species roamed the Midwest before European contact and still survive today. These include the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid and the Dusty Hog-Nosed Snake.
  • Transportation/Utility – roads
  • Transportation/Utility – waste
  • Urban – urban non-vegetated – I thought this would be mice and cockroaches and maybe pigeons. At least in Missouri, non-human urban dwellers are more varied.
  • Wetland – wet ditches – If a body got dumped into a ditch, what animals might show up to nibble or crawl on the remains?

Once you do pull up an animal or plant record, you’ll see a basic information profile with a link to a detailed report. For the most part, the detailed report will contain more information than you probably want to know. The exception may the list of citations at the end of each detailed report. For example, the record for the dusty hog-nosed snake has about a dozen citations, including:
Anderson, P. 1965. The Reptiles Of Missouri. Univ. Missouri Press, Columbia, Mo. 330pp.

Johnson, T.R. 2000. The Amphibians And Reptiles Of Missouri, 2nd. Ed. Missouri Dept. Of Conservation. Jefferson City, Mo. 400 Pp.

Daniel, R.E. and B.S. Edmond. 2002. Revised county distribution maps of amphibians and reptiles of Missouri. MO Herp. Assoc. Newsletter 15:16-38.

These types of citations could come in handy if an animal or variation on an animal is important to your story.

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Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series

Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series – http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=educators.notebookseries

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where do polar bears live?
  • Where do harlequin ducks make their nests?
  • How long is a flying squirrel?

Description:

From the website, “the new edition, revised by department biologists, features more than 150 different animals. Included are: big game, small game, furbearers, nongame animals, birds, fish, shellfish, reptile and amphibians. Each chapter offers insights into the life history, reproductions, feeding habits, management and conservation of Alaska’s diverse wildlife.”

The information contained in these PDF notebook chapters varies, but almost all contain a life history and most will include descriptions of the animal and its range. Check out the entry for polar bears and see why one dominating the streets of Juneau and Ketchikan would be laughed off the pages of a book. A few entries, such as the one for Alaskan King Crab, offer advice on how to cook the animal.

 

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