Australian Society For Fish Biology

Helen Larson

Dr Helen Larson is a long term member of ASFB and is widely recognisable as a world authority on Gobioid taxonomy, having been the Curator of Fishes for the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin from 1981 until 2009. Helen had honed her technical skills as a Technical Officer in the Ichthyological Department of the Australian Museum from 1974 to 1981. Her formal education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and an MSc in Biology from the University of Guam. Her MSc was entitled ‘Notes on the biology and comparative behaviour of Eviota zonura and Eviota smaragdus (Pisces:Gobiidae)’. Her PhD in Zoology from the University of Queensland, was entitled ‘A revision of the gobiid fish genus Mugilogobius (Teleostei: Gobioidei), and its systematic placement’.

Her career has involved prolific publication output based on papers of a characteristically thorough nature. This meticulous eye for scientific detail is apparent in her editorial skill, and has been demonstrated through her tireless commitment to a number of editorial boards (e.g. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory; Northern Territory Naturalist; Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters; Smithiana; Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology).

Dr Larson has worked on a wide range of freshwater, estuarine and marine fishes including but by no means limited to the gobioids. This includes published research on river sharks, freshwater hardyheads, freshwater grunters, damsel fishes, mackerel emperors, etc. Her peer reviewed journal publication outputs include greater than 100 papers and furthermore she is first author on more than half of these. Additionally, Dr Larson has authored 20 books/book chapters and 20 reports. Her species descriptions and revisions of particular goby and gudgeon genera tell a committed story of improving and refining the taxonomy of these groups. The breadth of her work spans across fishes in underground cave systems, landlocked freshwater systems, rivers, estuaries, coral reefs (including sponge associated fish) and pelagic assemblages, and is simply breath taking in scope.

I contend that Dr Larson should be admitted to the Australian Society for Fish Biology, Hall of Fame. My reasoning is that she has made a major contribution to fish taxonomy and ecology in Australasia. Her contributions as a taxonomist alone have transformed scientific perspective of these fishes, particularly at the species and genus level, across multiple ecosystem types. This is no mean achievement given the finesse and challenges associated with working on these frequently small bodied fishes. Secondarily she has assisted, trained and empowered others in identifying fishes in Australia and the Pacific islands. In this way she has provided rigorous fish identification support to remotely based survey teams and ecology projects, and expanded the skills of her colleagues. Helen’s approachable nature and commitment to thoroughness as a scientist, editor and reviewer have also had wide reaching impact on the fish ecology community.

In closing, I know that I speak for many in saying that she is a delightful person. She pours a wonderful cup of tea. Her warmth and sense of humour are equally worthy of mention. Helen is accessible and this has been an integral component of her giving to the scientific community and ultimately is a hall mark of her professional standing.

Selected publications:

Larson, H.K. 1976. A new species of Eviota with discussion of the nominal general Eviota and Eviotops. Copeia3: 498-502.

Larson, H.K. and D.F. Hoese. 1980. Fishes of the Indian Ocean. Results of the ichthyological investigations during the Indian Ocean expedition of the research vessel "Meteor", October, 1964 to May, 1965. Systematical Section, XXIII. Gobiidae " "Meteor" Forschungs - Ergebnisse32: 33-43.

Larson, H.K. 1990. A revision of the gobiid genera Pleurosicya and Luposicya, with descriptions of eight new species of Pleurosicya. The Beagle, Records of the Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences7: 1-53.

Hoese, D.F. and H.K. Larson. 1994. A revision of the Indo-Pacific fish genus Valenciennea, with descriptions of seven new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes23: 1-71.

Larson, H.K. 1995. A review of the Australian endemic gobiid fish genus Chlamydogobius, with description of five new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory12: 19-51.

Larson, H.K. 1999.A review of the mangrove goby genus Hemigobius (Gobioidei, Gobiidae, Gobionellinae). The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory15: 23-42.

Larson, H.K. and Hoese, D.F. 2001. A new genus of small gobiid fish (Teleostei, Gobiidae) from the Indo-west Pacific, with description of two new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory17: 27-31.

Larson, H.K. 2002. A new genus of small coral-reef goby (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from the Indo-west Pacific, with discussion of its relationships. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory18: 63-71.

Larson, H. K. 2010. A review of the gobiid fish genus Redigobius (Teleostei: Gobionellinae), with descriptions of two new species. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 21(2), 123.

Larson, H.K. and Buckle, D. 2012. A revision of the circumtropical goby genus Gnatholepis Bleeker (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobionellinae). Zootaxa3529: 1-69.

Larson, H.K., Foster, R. and Humphreys, W.F. 2013.. A new species of the blind cave gudgeon Milyeringa (Gobioidei, Eleotridae, Butinae), from Barrow Island, Western Australia, with a redescription of M. veritas Whitley. Zootaxa 3616: 135-150.

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Helen studying Eviota within a reef bench pool on Guam for her Masters research.