Australian Society For Fish Biology

Doug Hoese

By Helen Larson

Doug Hoese has described 100 new species of fishes so far – of which 93 are gobioids, one of the most difficult groups of fishes to work on anywhere on the planet. If that alone does not earn him some acclaim from the ASFB, then here is a bit more. Out of 335 fish families, between the Zoological Catalogue of Australia and the Australian Faunal Directory, Doug has authored or co-authored 313 accounts (see and There are a few groups that he didn’t write up for the Zoological Catalogue but he has worked on these for the Australian Faunal Directory. Anyone who does all that is a very busy hard-working ichthyologist.

He was born Douglass Fielding Hoese on 17 April, 1942 (which makes him an Aries or a Horse, depending on your viewpoint). He took a BA in Zoology in 1964 at University of Texas and a PhD in Marine Biology in 1971 at the University of California, San Diego. From 1965-1970 Doug worked as a part-time research assistant (Fish Systematics) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Then in 1971 he decided to apply for the position of Assistant Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum. And got it.

Doug arrived at the Australian Museum in 1971, the same year that the ASFB was formally established. He immediately became involved, attending all the local Sydney Group meetings and Annual Conferences. He was elected the third ASFB president, following John Lake and Gilbert Whitley, in 1973. He also served as Secretary from 1975 through 1977 and was a Councillor in 1977 and 1978.

From 1976 to 1981 Doug was Curator of Fishes, but also acquired several other positions as the Museum reshuffled people and research groups. So Doug was the Head of Marine Group (1981-1982), Scientific Officer (1982-1988), Chair of the Vertebrate Zoology Division (1983-1987), Senior Research Scientist (1988-1998), Head of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology and Scientific Services (1989-1998), Chief Scientist (1991-1999) and Head of Science (1999-2004). In 2004 Doug retired and is now a Research Fellow (and can get even more work done).

Doug has 10 species of fishes named for him, and they are not all gobies. Well, seven of them are, but he also has an Alabes, a Dermatopsis and a Starksia named for him. Interesting that they are all small, benthic and slender fishes (and the male Starksia is quite spectacular).

Most of Doug’s work is on the systematics of gobioid fishes, the largest suborder of modern fishes, with well over 2000 species (about 400 in Australia). Gobioids include about 10% of all known fish species, about 15% of all reef inhabiting fish species in Australia and 20‑40% of all estuarine species in Australia. Gobioid fishes are generally small (10‑500 mm), are diverse in their adaptations and many species have quite unusual habits such as a semi-terrestrial lifestyle, air breathing, sex change and commensal associations with invertebrates. Doug’s research has contributed to a better taxonomic framework for the group, which should encourage and improve other work. Additionally, during the past 40 years Doug has maintained an up to date database of all described and recognised genera and species and a comprehensive bibliography of all gobioid fishes.

Doug’s systematics research has concentrated in three areas:

1) Taxonomic revisions of various gobioid genera. Because of the very large size of the group, research has concentrated on those genera which are widely distributed (e.g. Glossogobius), are of ecological significance (e.g. the commensal shrimp-gobies) or which are of importance in studying relationships within the group (e.g. eleotrids).

2) Definition and relationships of genera. Previous classifications of Indo‑Pacific gobioid genera recognised numerous genera containing only a single species, with little agreement in the literature as to classification. Over the past few years the number of recognised genera has decreased by about 30% and there is now general agreement in the literature as to most of the genera.

3) Higher classification and relationships of the major taxonomic groups (families and subfamilies). To assist with this, Doug built a large collection of specimens, including osteological material and x-rays of about 70% of known genera.


In 1981, John Paxton and Doug joined forces to hold the first international Indo-Pacific Fish Conference (IPFC) at the Australian Museum (I remember it well as us technicians got to do lots of letter-writing and logistics-sorting; this was pre-computer planning). This series of very successful conferences continues, every four years. In 2009 ASFB and IPFC held a joint conference in Fremantle, which was a very successful monster.

Doug supervised and assisted a number of students over the years, making a considerable effort to encourage and support them. Doug’s students worked on a range of topics, but I can only recall a few: Saiyafullah from Indonesia worked on the problematic freshwater Hypseleotris, Rachel Fitzhardinge on seagrass inhabitants, John Harris on his beloved Australian bass and Javad Ghasemzadeh, who tried to solve the Mugilidae.

In 1974 I started work at AM as a fish technician, working with Doug, something I had wanted to do ever since my mentor in fish, Bob Jones, told me that he went to university with this very goby-knowledgeable person and that I had better make myself known to him. Doug and I have co-authored 17 publications so far and will continue to work together until we both become too dotty to do so. It is not very often that one’s boss becomes one’s very particular friend and colleague.

Selected publications

Hoese, D.F. & Fourmanoir, P. (1978) Discordipinna griessingeri, a new genus and species of gobiid fish from the tropical Indo‑west Pacific. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 25(1): 19‑24.

Hoese, D.F. (1983) Sensory papilla patterns of the cheek lateralis system in the gobiid fishes Acentrogobius and Glossogobius, and their significance for the classification of gobioid fishes. Records of the AustralianMuseum 35: 223‑229.

Hoese, D.F. & Allen, G.R. (1983) A review of the gudgeon genus Hypseleotris (Pisces: Eleotridae) of Western Australia, with description of three new species. Records of the Western Australian Museum 10(3): 243‑261.

Hoese, D.F. (1986). Descriptions of two new species of Hetereleotris (Pisces: Gobiidae) from the western Indian Ocean, with discussion of related species. Special Publications, J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology No 41. 25 pp.

Hoese, D.F. (1986) Families Gobiidae, Eleotridae and Kraemeriidae. Pp. 774‑811. In Smith, M.M. and P.C. Heemstra, (eds.) Smith's Sea Fishes. McMillan, Johanesburg.

Hoese, D.F. & Allen, G.R. (1987) New Australian Fishes. Part 10. A new genus and two new species of freshwater eleotridid fishes (Gobioidei) from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 48(1): 35‑42.

Paxton, J.R., Hoese, D.F. Allen, G.R. & Gates, J. (1989) Pisces. Vol. 1. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Department of Fauna & Flora, Canberra, 665 pp.

Bauchot, M.L., Desoutter, M., Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. (1991) Catalogue critique des types de poissons du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Suite) Sous‑ordre des Gobioidei. Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat. Paris(4) 13 Section A (1‑2): 1‑82.

Hoese, D.F. & Gill, A.C. (1993) Phylogenetic relationships of eleotridid fishes (Pisces: Gobioidei). Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 415-440.

Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. (1994) Revision of the Indo-Pacific gobiid fish genus Valenciennea. Indo-Pacific Fishes 23: 1-71.

Hoese, D.F. & Reader, S. (2001) A preliminary review of the eastern Pacific species of Elacatinus (Perciformes: Gobiidae). Revista de Biologia Tropical 49 (Supplement 1): 157-167.

Hoese, D.F. & Kottelat, M. (2005) Bostrychus microphthalmus, a new microphthalmic cavefish from Sulawesi (Teleostei: Gobiidae) Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters 16(2) 183-191.

Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. (2005) Description of two new species of Hetereleotris (Gobiidae) from the south Pacific, with a revised key to species and synonymization of the genus Pascua with Hetereleotris.Zootaxa 1096 1-16.

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006) Fishes. pp 1-27. In Beesley, P.A. & A. Wells (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia, Volume 35. Australia: ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [and 300+ other chapters]

Hoese, D.F. & Rennis, D.S. (2006). Descriptions of a new species of Heteroclinus (Blennoidei: Clinidae) from southern Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria63(1): 21–24.

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J. & Allen, G.R. (2006). Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing : Australia Part 1, pp. xxiv 1–670; Part 2, pp. xxi 671–1472; Part 3, pp. xxi 1473–2178.

Yearsley, G. K., Last, P.R. & Hoese, D.F. (2006) Standard names of Australian fishes. CSIRO. Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper 9: 1-64.

Hoese, D.F. and Larson, H.K. (2008) Family Gobiidae. pp. 781-809. In: Gomon, M.F., Glover, J.C.M. and Kuiter, R.H. (eds) The fishes of Australia's south coast. Reed New Holland, Museum Victoria.

Hoese, D. F. & Motomura, H. (2009) Descriptions of two new genera and species of ptereleotrine fishes from Australia and Japan (Teleosei: Gobioidei) with discussion of possible relationships. Zootaxa 2312: 49-59.

Hoese, D. F. & Larson, H.K. (2010) Description of two new species of the genus Priolepis from the Indo-Pacific with redescription of Priolepis profunda and Priolepis psygmophilia. Ichthyological Research 57: 373-388.

Hoese, D. F. & G. R. Allen, G.R. (2012) A review of the amphidromous species of the Glossogobius celebius complex, with description of three new species. Cybium 35(4): 169-284.

Hoese, D.F., Hadiaty, R.K. and Herder, F. (2015) Review of the dwarf Glossogobius lacking head pores from the Malili lakes, Sulawesi, with a discussion of the definition of the genus. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 63: 14-26.

Winterbottom, R. and Hoese, D.F. (2015) A revision of the Australian species of Trimma (Actinopterygii, Gobiidae), with descriptions of six new species and redescriptions of twenty-three valid species. Zootaxa 3934(1): 1-102.