Curator of Fishes & Director of Research Lab
Ph.D. (Ecology) U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1977
M.S. (Zoology) U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1973
B.S. (Business Admin.) U. of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1969
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University
Dr. Starnes’ current research focuses on several areas including discovery and documentation of the true extent of the diversity and biology of freshwater fishes of North Carolina and the surrounding region, studies on selected marine fish groups of world-wide distribution, and continued work with Neotropical fishes begun in prior years at the Smithsonian Institution. Investigations of regional freshwater taxa are conducted via correlated molecular and morphological approaches which reveal both finer patterns of diversity and variation that are useful for purposes of conservation management and patterns of relationships among taxa that facilitate studies of the biogeographic history of the region. A great deal of effort is directed toward the accurate identification, cataloging, and databasing of regional fishes in the NCSM collection of fishes that will lay a firm foundation for a future comprehensive reference book on the fishes of North Carolina.
In addition to research on fishes, curation and Research Lab administration, Dr. Starnes has worked extensively with the research and development of the Museum’s exhibits, including the entire Coastal North Carolina gallery and aquatic portions of all other galleries, and the new Nature Research Center. He and the Fishes Unit are extensively consulted with by regional resource managers on matters pertaining to the identification of fishes and the conservation of their habitats and frequently advise the education and exhibits sections of the Museum in their efforts to apprise the public of our rich aquatic heritage and the need to conserve it.
Starnes, W. C. 1988. Revision, phylogeny, and biogeographical comments on the circumtropical marine percoid family Priacanthidae. Bulletin of Marine Science. 43(2):117–203.
Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 689 pp.
Starnes, W.C., and I. Schindler. 1993. Comments of the genus Apareiodon Eigenmann (Characiformes: Parodontidae) with the description of a new species from the Gran Sabana region of eastern Venezuela. Copeia. (3):754–762.
Starnes, W.C., and Scientific Council on Fishes. 2005. Revised status recommendations for jeopardized fish species in North Carolina. Report to Nongame Advisory Committee of North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 26 pp.
Starnes, W. C., J. Odenkirk, and M. J. Ashton. 2011. Update and analysis of fish occurrences in the lower Potomac River drainage in the vicinity of Plummers Island, Maryland - Contribution XXXI to the natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 124(4):280-309.