A population of Channa argus (Northern Snakehead) has been established in the Potomac River catchment, VA and MD, for approximately ten years, and is increasing rapidly in abundance. Little is known about life-history strategies of this species in North American environments. We report the first discovery of a Northern Snakehead nest in North America and discuss some of its nesting habits. Adult Northern Snakeheads constructed a circular nest in a patch of dense Hydrilla verticillata (Hydrilla) by clipping stems, thus creating a canopy of floating plants. They laid eggs atop floating stems, and larvae hatched within three days. Both male and female parents were observed guarding the eggs and fry in the nest. Parents also continuously guarded the school of fry as they dispersed from the nest. Prolonged schooling behavior after leaving the nest accompanied parental guarding for up to several weeks. Floating nests and parental care likely increase reproductive success in a tidally influenced ecosystem with abundant predators. These factors contribute to the ability of Northern Snakehead to persist and spread in North America. Based on our findings, nests will likely be located in areas of the Potomac River that are low to no flow, moderately shallow, and highly vegetated.
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