Murphy Develops Collaborative Research withthe Chinese Academy of Sciences

Brian R. Murphy, Professor, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences
and Director, Conservation Management Institute (College of Natural Resources)


  • An MOU has been completed between VT and the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB; Hubei Province; a branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences CAS)
    • IHB is in charge of all freshwater ecology and management issues nationwide
  • Murphy has been appointed Adjunct Faculty with IHB, Chinese Academy of Sciences (November 2006)
  • Murphy is part of a CAS Study Team for impacts of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River
    • The Yangtze is the longest river in China, and the third longest in the world (after the Nile and the Amazon).  It runs more than 3900 miles from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the west to the East China Sea near the port city of Shanghai on the eastern coast.  The river has more than 700 tributary streams plus numerous tributary lakes, including China’s two largest lakes (Poyang and Dongting).  More than 400 million people live in the Yangtze River basin, which includes 56 large cities.  The river and the lakes provide a major portion (2/3) of the fisheries production in China; in fact, 16% of the entire world’s freshwater fish production comes from the Yangtze basin. 
    • The Three Gorges Dam was completed in June of 2006, and is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world.
    • The dam has been impounding water for more than two years already, but the reservoir behind the dam still is not yet full.  When full, the reservoir will be 370 miles long, displace millions of people, and flood numerous archaeological sites and artifacts. 
    • The dam includes ship passage facilities, but no fish passage facilities.  As a result, migratory fishes are blocked from moving upstream. Some unique river species include the Yangtze River sturgeon, paddlefish, porpoise, and dolphin.  The dolphin is now probably extinct (due to other river problems before the dam was completed).
    • Some important commercial fish species below the dam have already ceased spawning, due to temperature and flow changes in the river.  This will have major impacts on an important source of food protein and income for many people.
    • We are preparing a manuscript for Science discussing these preliminary impacts.
    • We are developing joint proposals for international funding.
    • The government is considering nine more similar dams.  Our team will be involved in recommending design changes to reduce impacts of these future dams.
  • Murphy will be co-directing graduate students at IHB.
    • First project will be conducted jointly with Guiyang University (in Guizhou Province, the poorest in China)
    • Project will seek to solve overfishing problems in a large freshwater lake (Cao Hai) in western China; the overfishing problems are caused by the severe poverty in the region.
  • Murphy and CMI/CNR hosted 3 CAS scientists at VT in April of 2007.  Their trip was aimed to assist researchers in the USA who are seeking to solve problems with invasive fish species that originated from China.  They visited the US Fish and Wildlife Service Lab in Columbia Missouri to discuss problems of invasive Asian carps in Mississippi River.  After their visit to Washington, DC, the CAS scientists visited VT to present lectures regarding the invasive Chinese snakehead fish (the northern snakehead) that recently has been found in the Potomac River, and discussed joint proposal development for various future research projects in China.





Dana Keith
Assistant to Department Head
Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM100, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5573
Fax: (540) 231-7580


Dr. Sarah Karpanty 
Graduate Program Coordinator 

Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Cheatham Hall, RM150, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-4586
Fax: (540) 231-7580


Stephanie Hart, Director
The Advising Center
Cheatham Hall, RM138, Virginia Tech
310 West Campus Drive (MC0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-5482 Email: