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What are the potential effects of snakeheads to our waters?

During all life stages, snakeheads compete with native species for food and habitat. As juveniles, they eat zooplankton, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and the young of other fishes. As adults, they become voracious predators, feeding on other fishes, crustaceans, frogs, small reptiles, and sometimes birds and small mammals. Should snakeheads become established in North American ecosystems, their predatory behavior could drastically disrupt food webs and ecological conditions, thus forever changing native aquatic systems by modifying the array of native species.

An additional concern is the snakehead's potential to transfer pathogens to native fishes, because snakeheads can carry diseases and parasites that have the potential to be harmful. Fishery scientists need to study this potential to determine if diseases and parasites can be transferred to North American species.

Tags: Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Native Species, Snakeheads, Ecology, Predator, Aquatic