Principal Investigator: John Odenkirk, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Years Funded: 2017-2018
Snakeheads, particularly Northern Snakehead Channa argus, have experienced dramatic range expansions in North America over the past two decades. Commensurate with this expansion has come publicity via a plethora of popular media outlets and handful of peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from research by various state, federal and academic institutions. This controversial group of fish has captivated audiences around the globe, but a great deal of misinformation remains in the public domain due to misconceptions and limited conveyance of legitimate biological and ecological information from the scientific community. Additionally, as C. argus continues to spread along the mid-Atlantic and central United States, resource managers from newly colonized and neighboring states desire information to inform expectations and implement management strategies. Despite some progress in describing certain aspects of snakehead biology and, to a lesser extent, ecology, the list of unknowns remains great. Snakeheads are often implicated as a vector of ecosystem destruction and/or restructuring, yet nearly no conclusive evidence of such exists. Furthermore, various facets of spawning behavior, early life history and recruitment are poorly understood at best. There is a paucity of studies describing interactions between snakeheads and other species, and their ecosystem effects are thus largely unknown. The goal of the symposium is to foster a better understanding and improve management knowledge of these species. To achieve this goal, we have several objectives which include: the symposium in May 2018; a germane, valuable program relevant to a broad audience; a registration that is economically reasonable; and a published book of peer-reviewed proceedings serving as a resource on current snakehead information. Presenters will be encouraged, but not be required, to publish within this volume. Additional chapters on topics not presented at the symposium are possible.
Photo credit: VA DGIF