invasive walking species the snakehead fish by syeda zafrin n.
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Invasive Walking Species: The Snakehead Fish by Syeda Zafrin. Biological Taxonomy Domain: Eukarya Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Family: Channidae Species : Channa argus Common name : Northern Snakehead.

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Biological Taxonomy Domain: EukaryaKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: ActinopterygiiOrder: PerciformesFamily: ChannidaeSpecies: ChannaargusCommon name: Northern Snakehead

background environmental constraints
Background & Environmental Constraints
  • Origin: China, eastern Russia, and the Korean peninsula
  • Speciation: Channaargus is 1 of 29 snakehead species
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Maximum size: Up to 5 feet long
  • Water parameters:
    • Freshwater
    • pH: 6.0 - 7.5
    • Temperature: 72-82˚ F (22-28˚C)
threat to biodiversity economy
Threat to Biodiversity & Economy
  • This top level predator fish is known to survive on land and cause major strain on local ecosystems
  • Alter freshwater ecosystems by competing against native fish
  • Reduce biodiversity through predation on aquatic and terrestrial species
  • Could push endangered or threatened species to the brink of extinction
  • May introduce fungal pathogen known as Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) – infects foreign freshwater fish
  • Could damage commercial and recreational fishing industry in the Chesapeake by diminishing populations of fish that spawn in the Potomac River
  • Millions of dollars have been spent on fish stocking, dam modifications, and other projects to limit snakehead impact
introduction to u s waters
Introduction to U.S. Waters
  • In the past, Asian markets and other grocers were allowed to import living snakeheads to the U.S.
  • Over time, human beings introduced the species to native waters
  • First reported in U.S. waters in 1977 in Silverwood Lake, California
  • National Media debut in 2002
    • An angler caught an unfamiliar fish that measured 28 inches from a pond in Crofton, Maryland.
    • Took the picture to Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources where it was later identified.
    • After another fisherman caught spawning adult and baby snakeheads from the same pond, the national media disseminated the first stories of the snakehead.
    • To prevent the fish from migrating to the Potomac River, Maryland wildlife officials dumped the pesticide, Rotenone.
    • Killed all fish, including 6 adult and over 1000 snakehead young.
    • An unsuccessful effort as Channaargus appeared in the Potomac River 2 years later.
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Northern Snakehead possesses competitive advantages that may allow it to out-compete native fish species
    • Primitive lungs
      • Sacs above each gill that can fill with air and draw oxygen from the stored air.
      • Allows it to survive waters that are low in oxygen.
      • Allows it to survive out of water for 2 – 3 days.
      • Allows it to live under a sheet of ice
    • Aggressive
      • Both parents guard the eggs and the fry
      • Known to attack fishing lures.
    • Highly prolific
      • Spawning females can release up to 15,000 eggs at a time
      • Can mate up to 5 times per year.
      • Equates to 75,000 offspring per year.
    • Indiscriminate feeders
      • Feed on native fish, amphibians, crustaceans, birds, small reptiles and small mammals.
  • Snakehead video
purpose
Purpose:

In 2004, the VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries initiated a study to monitor the snakehead’s expansion in the Potomac from 2004–2006.

methods
Methods:
  • Surveyed on a monthly basis:
    • Areas of known snakehead concentrations.
    • Bodies of water contiguous but farther away to assess range.
  • Relative abundance of snakeheads was based on the number of fish retrieved per hour of electrofishing, and catches per unit effort of angling.
    • Explanation of electrofishing
  • Sampled fish were separated into 8 groups, ages 0-7 (approximated based on size of sagittalotolith at necropsy).
    • Accumulates in rings as it grows
    • Used in age or growth studies
  • Counts of daily rings on sagittalotoliths of newborns (age-0) were used to estimate when fish hatched.
  • Data collection included total length (mm), weight (g), stomach content evaluation, gonad condition, and length at age.
    • Stomach content evaluation entailed only removal and identification.
    • Gonadosomatic indices (GSI) of ovary weight to body weight was used to quantify spawning period.
results
Results:

Table 2. Mean total length (TL) and weight (W) of

northern snakeheads sampled in the Potomac River

system, Virginia, during 2004-2006.

TL (mm)   ____ W (g)___________

Year N Mean SD Min. Max.   N Mean Min. Max.

2004 20 406 105 88 634 782 553 7 2635

2005 270 273 120 113 655 493 621 13 3145

2006 215 475 146 164 765   1381 1009 36 4598

Table 1. Total number of northern snakeheads captured

from the Potomac River system, Virginia, during 2004-2006

by use of several gear types (HL = hook and line; EP =

electrofishing; BP = Backpack; other = dip net, trap net,

seine, standing, and bow angling).

Year HL Boat EF BP EF Barge EF Other Total

2004 13 4 0 0 3 20

2005 11 59 127 71 3 271

2006 24 171 11 1 7 214

Total 48 234 138 72 13 505

Table 3. Length-at-age data (mm) for 167 northern

snakeheads sampled in the Potomac River system,

Virginia, during 2004-2006 (all years combined).

Age N TL mean SD Min. Max.

0 9 133 23 88 166

1 18 190 20 155 227

2 24 287 85 163 480

3 53 357 85 218 588

4 39 431 100 308 669

5 17 545 111 362 674

6 4 578 52 531 634

7 3 560 9 531 569

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Table 4. Frequency of occurrence (percentage of stomachs containing the taxon) of identifiable taxa consumed by 219 northern snakeheads collected in the Potomac River system, Virginia, during 2004-2006.

Common name   Scientific name Frequency (%)

  • Banded killifish Fundulusdiaphanus27
  • White perch Moroneamericana 5
  • Pumpkinseed Lepomisgibbosus5
  • Bluegill L. macrochirus 5
  • Goldfish Carassiusauratus 2
  • Gizzard shad Dorosomapetenense 1
  • American eel Anguilla rostrata 1
  • Yellow perch Percaflavescens 1
  • Largemouth Bass Microplevussalmoides1
  • Sponail shiner Notropishudsonius 1
  • Eastern silvery minnow Hybognathusregius < 1
  • MummichogF. heteroclitus < 1
  • Channel catfish Ictaluruspunctatus < 1
  • Green sunfish L. cyanellus < 1
  • Tessellated darter Etheostomaolmstedi < 1
  • Frog Rana spp. < 1
  • Crayfish Cambaridae < 1
conclusions
Conclusions:
  • Dramatic increase in catch rates suggests an overall increase in snakehead population, although an increase in electrofishing capture efficiency could have added some degree of bias.
  • Maximum size, including total length and weight, increased every year, which suggests that the population matured.
  • 17 species were identified in stomach contents.
  • Female Gonadosomatic Indices rose in early April, peaked in June, and diminished through September.
  • Counts of daily rings on otoliths of newborns indicated hatching from mid-June to early September.
implications
Implications:
  • Despite the apparent increase in snakehead population, the area of colonization did not appear to increase over the original 23-km main stem of the Potomac.
  • Yearly increase in maximum size is consistent w/ theory that the population was recently established.
  • Stomach contents consistent w/ theory that snakehead is piscivorous and opportunistic in feeding (ie. Frog, crayfish).
  • Female GSIs, estimated hatch dates, and the discovery of a nest in early September, indicate a spawning period of at least 5 months in the Potomac.
works cited
Works Cited:
  • Virginia Invasive Species Council. 2005. Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage. Richmond. 84 p.
  • Invasive Species. 2004. MarekTopoleski, Mary Fabrizio, Ron Lauda. Pg 77-122.
  • Aquatic Community. Northern Snakehead. 2004. Retrieved on Oct. 26, 2009. <http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/channa/argus.php>.
  • Odenkirk, John, and Steve Owens. Expansion of a Northern Snakehead Population in the Potomac River System. American Fisheries Society 136:1633-1639, 2007.
  • The Environmental Literacy Council. Snakeehead Fish.. 2008. Retrived on Oct. 25, 2009.
  • < http://www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/1473.html >.