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A paradoxical bias in knowledge about Norwegian freshwater fishes: Research efforts during 1980–2020

Cite this dataset

Vøllestad, Leif Asbjørn (2022). A paradoxical bias in knowledge about Norwegian freshwater fishes: Research efforts during 1980–2020 [Dataset]. Dryad.


Norwegian freshwater systems are in general species-poor. That is particularly the case for freshwater fishes. Only 32 species are considered native, whereas an additional 12 species are non-native. Some of the non-native species are also considered to be invasive and have negative ecosystem effects. Freshwater fishes are exposed to numerous stressors throughout their life cycle, many of which are of anthropogenic origin. In order to manage and conserve the diversity of fish there is a need for basic knowledge and understanding. Here I make an effort to review the published research on all Norwegian freshwater fish species during the 1980–2020 period, based on a standardized search on the Web of Science. Over 2000 relevant articles were retrieved and evaluated following the search. The research activity has been highly biased, with most research activity directed at a few species of high economic and societal value. Most work was directed at Atlantic salmon Salmo salar and brown trout S. trutta, and in general towards species within the salmonid family. Extremely little attention was directed at species such as the lampreys (four species) and sculpins (three species). Also, many species that have been listed on the Norwegian Red List during various time periods have not been given any particular attention. This lack of attention was also evident for most of the non-native species. The strong bias in research activity and lack of attention given to many species will clearly lead to difficulties in making appropriate management decisions. This is unfortunate, in particular at a time when climate change may lead to numerous ecosystem-level changes.


I used the Clarivate Web of Science to search for relevant publications selecting the “All databases” option. Further, I formulated a search query of the form: (“species name”) AND (Norway OR Norge) in the “all fields” search widow. The species name was first the valid formal Latin name, then I used searches with synonyms and also common names (in English). I constrained the search to only include articles published between 1980–2020. By including the (Norway OR Norge) clause in the search, papers that do not have information on either the species or the country in the title, abstract or keywords will be missed.


Usage notes

The file is in CSV format and should be readable in many applications. In addition, the same file is available in .xlsx format.


University of Oslo