The biogeography of faunal place names in the United States

John J. Cox, David S. Maehr, Jeffery L. Larkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The names of native wildlife species are attached to thousands of landmarks throughout the United States. We used a U.S. Geological Survey online database to assess the abundance, distribution, density, and historical range fidelity of 24 faunal place names within the continental United States and Alaska. Our search generated over 35,000 faunal place names distributed across 49 states, with overall highest densities in mountainous regions. The distribution of place names corroborates the familiar pattern of range constriction characteristic of many species during the past century. Place names of range-limited species demonstrated strong fidelity to historical ranges. The spatial patterns of faunal place names are important indicators of a species' historical distribution. Furthermore, these place names reflect culturally important connections between humans and native fauna. Prudent analysis of place names may provide important biogeographical information for maintaining or restoring species and habitat components, although its utility will likely be limited to large, charismatic species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1150
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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