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Loyola University Chicago

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Department of Biology

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We report discovery of an established population of the Asian swamp eel Amphipnous cuchia (Hamilton, 1822) in Bayou St. John, an urban waterway in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. This fish, commonly referred to as cuchia (kuchia), is a member of the family Synbranchidae and is native to southern and southeastern Asia. Recently-used synonyms include Monopterus cuchia and Ophichthys cuchia. We collected both adult and young-of-year cuchia from dense mats of littoral vegetation at several locations in Bayou St. John. Presence of multiple age and size classes is the first documented evidence of reproduction of this species outside of its native range. Establishment of this air-breathing, burrowing, salt-tolerant, opportunistic predator is of concern given that Bayou St. John is a tributary of Lake Pontchartrain, which provides a direct pathway for dispersal into the Mississippi River basin and coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Mexico.


DOI: 10.3391/bir.2020.9.2.22

Funding text

We appreciate the assistance of Jessica Jordan and Kyger Mintken in the field. Robert Bourgeois, Gary Vitrano, and other LDWF personnel provided valuable advice, logistical support, and made additional collections. Specimens were collected under LDWF scientific collecting permit SCP97 and Loyola University New Orleans IACUC protocol 2019B0002. Howard Jelks and Amy Benson critiqued drafts of the manuscript and two anonymous reviewers offered useful edits. Tyson Roberts provided advice on swamp eel taxonomy, shared pertinent portions of a draft of his taxonomic revision of the Synbranchidae, and reviewed parts of our manuscript. Alice Best generously shared information on cuchia populations in Houston. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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