Fishes of Minnesota Observations Database
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1. Overview
2. Data Quality

  3. Data Organization
  4. Coordinate System
  5. Attributes
6. Distribution - Get Data
  7. Metadata Reference
Section 1Overview
Originator Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR)
Title Fishes of Minnesota Observations Database
Abstract The Fishes of Minnesota Observations  database  is a large  Postgres database developed to support the online MNDNR Fishes of Minnesota Mapper application. The database contains records of fish species observations from lakes, streams and wetlands collected by a variety of sources over the time period 1808-2012. 

The majority of lake-related records come from the MNDNR Fisheries Lake Survey database, while the majority of stream-related records come from the MPCA Biological Monitoring Program.  Other major sources include:  USGS, USFWS and the Bell Museum.

The true locations of fish species observations are represented in the database, with the following exceptions:
  • MNDNR Fisheries Lake Survey observations are shown as lake centerpoint to protect net set locations from tampering
  • The locations of protected species have been obscured to protect sensitive species and their habitats 

The point observations are available for download from the web application in .csv, shapefile and species list format.  The shapefile is also available from the MN Geospatial Commons website (see Section 6: Distribution.)

The Fishes of Minnesota database and web application are the result of a collaborative effort between MNDNR Ecological and Water Resources, MNDNR Fisheries, and MNDNR Management Resources divisions.
Purpose To provide access to a comprehensive collection of Minnesota fish species observation data to researchers, agency staff, anglers and other interested parties. The online mapper allows users to query and map the data without need for GIS software or knowledge. (Note that the shapefile is also available for download by GIS users).  

Users of the online Fishes of MN Mapper can:
  • Query the database by a variety of criteria such as species name, protection status, watershed and date range
  • View tabular records associated with point observations
  • Generate species lists for particular waterbodies, watersheds, counties or DNR management areas
  • Download data records in .csv (comma-delimited text for Excel) or .shp (ESRI shapefile for GIS)
  • Move interactively between the map interface and tabular results
  • Map the distributions of different fish species across Minnesota
  • Export queried map data as an image 
  • Create a map based on a custom query

Important note:  In general, the data is not suitable for comparing the abundance of fish species across waterbodies due to the different methods/efforts/gears used to collect the data. An exception are records collected by DNR Fisheries Lake Survey (see [Source] attribute), which may be compared to each other because standardized methods were used.  However, users must understand that lakes of different types and in different regions inherently vary in the presence and abundance of certain species and must be compared to others of similar types/geographic regions  in order to make true comparisons.  It is best to contact a Fisheries professional when making interpretations about fish species distributions/abundances and specific waterbodies.
Time Period of Content Date 12/31/2012
Currentness Reference There are records extending back to 1808, although these are few. DNR Fisheries Lake Survey data has been added from 1953 through 2012. MPCA stream data spans from 1966-2012.  We plan to update the database annually with MNDNR and MPCA data from the current year's field surveys.  Other data will be added as it becomes available.
Progress In work
Maintenance and Update Frequency Annually
  Spatial Extent of Data Minnesota, including some records of fish species in border waters (Iowa, Wisconsin, N/S Dakota, Canada)
Bounding Coordinates -97.252252
Place Keywords Minnesota, upper Midwest, lake, stream, wetland
Theme Keywords fish, species, distribution, range, catch, gear, sampling, survey
Theme Keyword Thesaurus ISO 19115 Category
  Access Constraints None
  Use Constraints Comparisons of catch should generally not be made between records  due to differences in sampling effort and gears used. An exception to this rule is that records from [SOURCE] = DNR Fisheries Lake Survey may be compared because standardized methods were used. (See Important Note under Purpose, Section 1, above).

Note that absence of a fish species in a particular waterbody doesn't guarantee that it isn't present, only that it wasn't observed in the survey(s) performed. This may be due to many factors, including the type of gear used, time of day or year, purpose of the survey, species targeted, etc.)  Conversely, presence of a fish species in a particular year doesn't guarantee that it is still present today.
  Contact Person Information Lyn Bergquist,
GIS Data Contact
Minnesota DNR - Fisheries Unit
500 Lafayette Rd
Saint Paul,
Phone: 651-259-5189
  Browse Graphic 
  Associated Data Sets DNR Fisheries Lake Survey - Fish Species Presence
Section 2Data Quality
Attribute Accuracy  
  Logical Consistency  Species point observations fall on waterbodies (polygons) and on/near watercourses (lines) as intended.  Spatial joins have been performed to ensure that observations fall on/near the listed water feature.
  Completeness This is the most comprehensive fish species database maintained in Minnesota.  However, there are likely to be smaller data holdings that are not represented here. We welcome contributions from external sources. See Contact Information (Section 1, above).
  Horizontal Positional Accuracy Data are represented as points. For lakes, the records are positioned at the lake centerpoint. For streams, actual locations were used if available. For many records, locations were moved from the Township-Range-Section recorded in the original database to the closest position on the referenced stream.
  Vertical Positional Accuracy Not Applicable
  Lineage  Generated from GPS-collected UTM locations or moved to waterbody/watercourse from Township-Range-Section locations recorded in the original Fishes of MN database.   Observations collected by source DNR Fisheries Lake Survey were moved to the lake centerpoint from the actual sampled location.  Observations of protected species were "obscured", either by calculating UTMS to NULL or moving points to lake and stream centerpoints. All other lake and stream observations appear at their original locations.
Section 3
Spatial Data Organization (not used in this metadata)
Section 4Coordinate System
  Horizontal Coordinate Scheme  Universal Transverse Mercator
  UTM Zone Number  15
  Horizontal Datum  NAD83
Horizontal Units  meters
Section 5Attributes
  Overview This is a large Postgres database which holds fish species observation records for the DNR Fishes of MN Mapper application. 
  • The attributes listed below appear in the Fishes of MN  shapefile export (available from the Tabular Results page of the mapping application).
  • Attributes marked with (*) appear in the Tabular Results display window.
  • Attributes marked with (^) appear in the species list export from the Tabular Results display window.
  • (Note:  field names in web export products may differ from those listed below).
  Detailed Citation  
Table Detail:  
- MNDNR Fishes of MN DB
(MNDNR Fishes of MN DB)
Field NameValid ValuesDefinitionDefinition Source
FOM_iD*1 to 500000Unique sequential ID that links data records back to the original Ecological Resources Filemaker Pro databaseMNDNR Fishes of MN DB
Fish species scientific name 
Fish species common name 
Fish group scientific name 
Fish group common name 
SP_CER_DESenumeratedSpecies certainty: level to which species was identified 
 ID to speciesIdentified to species level (e.g., Lepomis gibbosus) 
 ID to genusIdentified to genus level (e.g., Lepomis sp.) 
 ID to groupIdentified to group level (e.g., Small cyprinids) 
 ID as hybridIdentified as hybrid (e.g., Lepomis x Lepomis) 
HABGUILD_A^enumeratedHabitat guild of adult stage of this speciesEWR Stream Habitat Group
 DPDeep Pool 
 FRFast Riffle 
 MPMedium Pool 
 SPShallow Pool 
 SRSlow Riffle 
SP_STATUSenumeratedProtection status of species 
 FListed as a Federally Endangered species. This is a federal designation. 
 EListed as a Minnesota  Endangered Species. This is a state designation. 
 GListed as a Minnesota Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). This is a state designation. 
 NSpecies is non-native to Minnesota 
 TListed as a Minnesota Threatened Species. This is a state designation. 
WB_TYPEenumeratedWaterbody type 
 LakeLake, pond, reservoir 
 StreamStream, river or ditch 
 WetlandWetland, marsh, bog, swamp, slough 
Waterbody name 
Fisheries Waterbody ID: unique, sequential number that links data to DNR Fisheries Lake Survey Oracle database 
Division of Waters unique lake ID number that links to DNR Waters Lakes DB (Oracle database) 
Division of Waters lake name from DNR Waters Lakes DB (Oracle database) 
Division of Waters alternate lake name from DNR Waters Lakes DB (Oracle database) 
DNR Fisheries unique watercourse ID 
DNR Fisheries watercourse name 
River mile or stretch of river (mile to mile) corresponding to a data record. 
General location description corresponding to data record 
Habitat description corresponding to data record 
DNR Fisheries area office name 
REGION_NAMEenumeratedDNR Region 
 NorthwestNorthwest Region 1 (Bemidji) 
 NortheastNortheast Region 2(Grand Rapids) 
 CentralCentral Region 3 (St. Paul) 
 SouthernSouthern Region 4 (New Ulm) 
STATE_NAMEenumeratedState or province. 
 ManitobaManitoba, Canada (province) 
 North DakotaNorth Dakota 
 OntarioOntario, Canada (province) 
 South DakotaSouth Dakota 
County name 
Town name 
Township number 
Range number and direction (E/W) 
Section number 
X coordinate of point location in projection UTM NAD83 Zone 15 meters 
Y coordinate of point location in projection UTM NAD83 Zone 15 meters 
DNR Minor watershed number (5 digits). First 2 digits represent DNR Major watershed number 
DNR Minor watershed name 
DNR Major watershed number 
DNR Major watershed name 
DNR Level 1 Watershed Name (formerly known as DNR Province name) 
HUC02_IDenumeratedUSGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 1 (Region) 
 04Great Lakes Region 
 07Upper Mississippi Region 
 09Souris-Red-Rainy Region 
 10Missouri Region 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 2 (Sub-Region) 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) Name - Level 2 (Sub-Region) 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) Minnesota-specific Name - Level 2 (Sub-Region) 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 3 (Basin) 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 4 (Sub-Basin) 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 5 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 6 
HUC level not implemented 
USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Category) ID - Level 8 
Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 
Date certainty description: certainty of survey date 
Catch (number of fish of a single species caught in survey effort) 
GEAR*enumeratedGear type used during survey effort 
 ElectroshockerAll types of electroshockers (backpack, boat) 
 Gill netAll types of gill nets 
 Minnow trapAll types of minnow traps 
 MiscellaneousMiscellaneous method 
 SeineAll types of seines 
 Trap netAll types of trap nets 
 TrawlAll types of trawls 
 TrotlineAll types of trotlines 
 CommercialGears used by commercial operations 
 Multiple GearMultiple gears used 
 ObservationFish was observed 
 Other GearAll other types of gear (net, gaff, etc.) 
 UnknownUnknown gear or method 
Source of data record 
Collector of fish during survey effort 
Identifier of fish during survey effort 
MUSEUMenumeratedMuseum name; refers to vouchered specimens only 
 No museumNo museum (specimen not vouchered). 
 CNHMCanada Natural History Museum (CNHM) 
 INHSIllinois Natural History Survey (INHS) 
 JFBMBell Museum (JFBM) 
 JFBM, UTBell Museum, University of Tennessee-Knoxville (JFBM, UT) 
 MPMMilwaukee Public Museum (MPM) 
 ROMRoyal Ontario Museum (ROM), Canada 
 UFUniversity of Florida-Gainesville (UF) 
 UMMZUniversity of Michigan - Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) 
 USNMUS National Museum (USNM) 
 UWSPUniversity of Wisconsin-Steven's Point (UWSP) 
 UWZMUniversity of Wisconsin Zoological Museum-Madison (UWZM) 
 UTUniversity of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT) 
 CMNCanada Museum of Nature (CMN) 
 INBSIndiana Biological Survey (INBS) 
 MCBSUniversity of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences (MCBS) 
 OSUMOhio State University Museum (OSUM) 
 SUSan Francisco University (SU) 
SPNAT_DESCenumeratedNature (method) of vouchered specimen 
 not preservedNot preserved (voucher = F only) 
 alcoholPreserved in alcohol 
 display mountSpecimen mounted in display 
 not extantSpecimen not extant (i.e., no longer exists) (voucher = F only) 
 photographed onlySpecimen photographed only 
 preservedSpecimen preserved - method not recorded 
 releasedSpecimen released (voucher = F only) 
 skeletonSkeleton preserved 
 unknownSpecimen preservation method unknown 
 TrueVoucher = True: Specimen was preserved AND has a catalog number. See SPNAT_DESC (nature of specimen) and MUSEUM (museum having vouchered specimen). 
 FalseVoucher = False: Specimen was not preserved OR specimen was preserved but DOES NOT HAVE a catalog number. See SPNAT_DESC (nature of specimen). 
 YOriginal location of observation has been obscured to protect species (all federally and state protected species) and net sets (Fisheries Lake Survey data).  For lakes, obscured locations are placed at the lake centerpoint.  For streams, they are usually placed at the centerpoint of the stream segment within the same HUC12 watershed as the original location.  If UTMs are NULL, the original UTMs have been removed and not yet (but will eventually be) replaced with obscured UTMs. 
 NOriginal location of observation 
Section 6Distribution
  Publisher  MNDNR - Division of Fish and Wildlife - Fisheries Unit
  Publication Date  11/01/2014
  Contact Person Information Zeb Thomas,
GIS Data Systems Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul,
Phone: 651-259-5637
  Distributor's Data Set Identifier  biota_fishes_of_mn.gdb/biota_fishes_of_mn
  Distribution Liability  Please read accompanying document: Minnesota DNR Data and Software License Agreement.pdf
  Ordering Instructions  Visit the web site noted in the online linkage section, or send an email to the Distribution Contact listed in this metadata record

Download data from the MNDNR Fishes of MN Mapper website at the URL below. Available in .csv (comma-delimited text for Excel) and .shp (ESRI shapefile for GIS) formats from the Tabular Results page.
Online LinkageNone available
Section 7Metadata Reference
  Metadata Date  06/04/2015
  Contact Person Information Zeb Thomas,
GIS Data Systems Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul,
Phone: 651-259-5637
  Metadata Standard Name  Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines
  Metadata Standard Version  1.2
  Metadata Standard Online Linkage


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