Nicolas Lapointe of Ottawa, Ontario, a doctoral candidate in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, has launched a website about the northern snakehead, a non-native fish species living in the Potomac River and elsewhere in the region.

The potentially troublesome species was introduced to North America from eastern Asia in the last decade.

The northern snakehead’s broad habitat tolerances and its ability to breathe air give it large potential for population spread and possible adverse impacts. It is difficult to predict potential impacts, especially in the northern Virginia and Potomac River area, because so many of the species located there are also non-native. Northern snakehead populations are currently found mainly in the lower Potomac River; if they spread over Great Falls to the upper Potomac, where there are fewer numbers of non-native species, the potential impacts could be significant and upset the ecological balance.

Although he is still completing his dissertation, Lapointe developed the website to make his research available to and easily understood by the public. “I feel that scientists should make their research accessible to the general public, and the pictures and videos on the site tell a different story than just research articles,” said Lapointe. He also wants the website to dispel misinformation about northern snakeheads, including myths that they walk on land and attack pets and humans. The site will be updated as the research is analyzed and completed.

Lapointe, who received his bachelor’s from Carleton University and his master’s from the University of Windsor, is focusing his doctoral dissertation on the predictions for new invasive species in the eastern United States.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members both stress the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development. The College of Natural Resources offers programs at the main campus in Blacksburg and in the National Capital Region. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Read more about Lapointe’s research on northern snakeheads:

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