John  Friel

Adjunct | Director, Alabama Museum of Natural History


  • PhD, Duke University, 1995
  • BS, University of Central Florida, 1986

Research Interests

My main research interest is documenting the remarkable diversity of catfishes, and elucidating their evolutionary relationships primarily using morphology, but increasing also using molecular data in collaboration with colleagues. My specialties are the catfishes of the families Aspredinidae (South American banjo catfishes) and Mochokidae (African squeakers and suckermouth catfishes), both groups that are poorly known to science and contain many new

Selected Publications

J.P. Friel & T.P. Carvalho. 2018. Family Aspredinidae – Banjo Catfishes. In van der Sleen, P. and Albert, J.S. (eds.). Field Guide to the Fishes of the Amazon, Orinoco & Guianas. Princeton University Press, pp. 202–207.

R.C. Schmidt, H.L. Bart Jr., F. Pezold & J.P. Friel. 2017. A biodiversity hotspot heats up: nine new species of suckermouth catfishes (Mochokidae: Chiloglanis) from Upper Guinean Forest streams in West Africa. Copeia, 105(2):301-338.

J.J. Day, A. Fages, K.J. Brown, E.J. Vreven, M.L.J. Stiassny. R. Bills, J.P. Friel & L. Rüber. 2017. Multiple independent colonisation into the Congo Basin during the continental radiation of African Mastacembelus spiny-eels. Journal of Biogeography 44(6):1-11.

T.P. Carvalho, R.E. Reis & J.P. Friel. 2017. A new species of the banjo catfish genus Hoplomyzon Myers (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae) from Lake Maracaibo tributaries, Venezuela: Osteological description using high-resolution computed microtomography of a miniature species. Neotropical Ichthyology, 15(1): e160143.

T.P. Carvalho, J.G. Lundberg, J.N. Baskin, J.P. Friel & R.E. Reis. 2016. A new species of the blind and miniature genus Micromyzon Friel and Lundberg, 1996 (Silurifomes: Aspredinidae) from the Orinoco River: describing catfish diversity using high-resolution computed tomography. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 165: 37-53.

J.P. Friel & T.P. Carvalho. 2016. A new species of Amaralia Fowler (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae) from the Paraná-Paraguay River Basin.Zootaxa 4088(4): 531–546.

T.P. Carvalho, A.R. Cardoso, J.P. Friel & R.E. Reis.. 2015. Two new species of the banjo catfish Bunocephalus Kner (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae) from the upper rio São Francisco basin, Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology, 13(3): 499-512.

C.H. Martin, J.S. Cutler, J.P. Friel, C.T. Dening, G. Coop & P.C. Wainwright. 2015. Complex histories of repeated gene flow in Cameroon crater lake cichlids cast doubt on one of the clearest examples of sympatric speciation. Evolution, 69(6):1406–1422.

F.D.B. Schedel, J.P. Friel & U.K. Schliewen. 2014. Haplochromis vanheusdeni, a new haplochromine cichlid species from the Great Ruaha River drainage, Rufiji basin, Tanzania (Teleostei, Perciformes, Cichlidae). Spixiana, 37(1):135–149.

R. Sonnenberg, J.P. Friel & J.R. Van Der Zee. 2014. Description of Hylopanchax paucisquamatus (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliidae), a new lampeye species from the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo. Zootaxa, 3846(4):577–583.

Day, J.J., K.J. Brown, C. Peart, J.P. Friel, R. Bills & T. Moritz. 2013. Continental diversification of an African catfish radiation (Mochokidae: Synodontis). Systematic Biology. 62(3):351–365.

Yang, L., M. Arunachalam, T. Sado, L.A. Boris, A.S. Golubtsov, J. Freyhof, J.P. Friel, W.-J., Chen, M.V. Hirt, R., Raja Manickam, M.K. Agnew, A.M. Simons, K. Saitoh, M. Miya, R.L., Mayden & S. He. 2012. Molecular phylogeny of the cyprinid tribe Labeonini (Teleostei: Cypriniformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 65:362–379.

Friel, J.P. & T.R. Vigliotta. 2011. Three new species of African suckermouth catfishes, genus Chiloglanis (Siluriformes: Mochokidae), from the lower Malagarasi and Luiche Rivers of western Tanzania. Zootaxa 3063:1–21.

Day, J.J., R. Bills & J.P. Friel. 2009. Lacustrine radiations in African Synodontis catfish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22:805–817.

Friel, J.P. 2008. Pseudobunocephalus, a new genus of banjo catfish with the description of a new species from the Orinoco River system of Colombia and Venezuela (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae). Neotropical Ichthyology 6:293–300.

Friel, J.P. & J.P. Sullivan. 2008. Synodontis woleuensis (Siluriformes: Mochokidae), a new species of catfish from Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Africa. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 157:3–12.

Friel, J.P. & T.R. Vigliotta. 2008. Atopodontus adriaensi, a new genus and species of African suckermouth catfish from the Ogôoué and Nyanga River systems of Gabon (Siluriformes Mochokidae). Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 157:13–23.

Fermon, Y., J.P. Friel, H.H. Ng & D. De Weirdt. 2007. Mochokidae. In Stiassny, M.L.J., G.G. Teugels, and C.D. Hopkins (eds.). The Fresh and Brackish Water Fishes of Lower Guinea, West-Central Africa (Volume 1). IRD Editions, Paris, pp. 698–752.

Friel, J.P. & T.R. Vigliotta. 2006. Synodontis acanthoperca, a new species from the Ogôoué River system, Gabon with comments on spiny ornamentation and sexual dimorphism in mochokid catfishes (Siluriformes: Mochokidae). Zootaxa, 1125:45–56.

Sullivan, J.P., S. Lavoué & J.P. Friel, 2004. A la découverte des poissons du parc national d’Odzala. Canopée, 26: 17–21.

Lundberg, J.G., T.M. Berra & J.P. Friel. 2004. First description of small juveniles of the primitive catfish Diplomystes (Siluriformes: Diplomystidae). Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters, 15(1):71–82.

Friel, J.P. 2003. Family Aspredinidae (Banjo catfishes). In Reis, R., S. Kullander, and C. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.). Check List Of Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. EDIPICRS, Porto Alegre, pp. 261–267.

Wainwright, P.C. & J.P. Friel. 2001. Behavioral characters and historical properties of motor patterns. In Wagner, G. (ed.). The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 285–301.

Wainwright, P.C. & J.P. Friel. 2000. Effect of prey type on motor pattern variance in tetraodontiform fishes. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 286:563–571.

Fine, M.L., C.B. King, J.P. Friel, K.E. Loesser & S. Newton. 1999. Sound production and locking of the pectoral spine of the channel catfish. In Irwin, E.R., W.A. Hubert, C.F. Rabeni, H. L. Schramm, Jr., & T. Coon (eds.). Catfish 2000: Proceedings of the International Ictalurid Symposium. American Fisheries Society, pp. 105–114.

Friel, J.P. & P.C. Wainwright. 1999. Evolution of complexity in motor patterns and jaw musculature of tetraodontiform fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 202:867–880.

Friel, J.P. & P.C. Wainwright. 1998. Evolution of motor pattern in tetraodontiform fishes: Does muscle duplication lead to functional diversification? Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 52(3):159–170.Fine, M.L., J.P. Friel, D. McElroy, C.B. King, K.E. Loesser & S. Newton. 1997. Pectoral spine locking and sound production in the channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus. Copeia, 1997(4):777–790.

Friel, J.P. & P.C. Wainwright. 1997. A model system of structural duplication: homologies of adductor mandibulae muscles in tetraodontiform fishes. Systematic Biology, 46(3):441–463.

Wetzel, J., J. Wourms & J.P. Friel. 1997. Comparative morphology of cotylephores in Platystacus and Solenostomus; modifications of the integument for egg attachment in skin-brooding fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 50:13–25.

Friel, J.P. & J.G. Lundberg. 1996. Micromyzon akamai, gen. et sp. nov., a small and eyeless banjo catfish (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae) from the river channels of the lower Amazon Basin. Copeia, 1996(3):641–648.

Friel, J.P. 1995. Acanthobunocephalus nicoi, a new genus and species of miniature banjo-catfish from the upper Orinoco and Casiquiare Rivers, Venezuela (Siluriformes: Aspredinidae). Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters, 6(1):89–95.