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Invasive Species Removal: Restoration of a Coastal Freshwater Pond

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jun 05, 2017

AS SEEN IN Land and Water Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Keith Gazaille, Senior Biologist and Regional Director

Mckill Pond_Cover_e.jpgEffective Control and Removal of Non-Native and Invasive Plants to Restore Open Water and Wetland Habitats

Project Background
The Mickill Pond system is a freshwater pond group located on a 15-acre private property at the southern tip of Westerly, Rhode Island, in an area known as Watch Hill. The ponds are separated from Block Island Sound by an approximate 250-foot-wide coastal dune and beach. Given the increasing development of the Rhode Island seacoast, this freshwater pond system represents a unique and desirable wetland habitat feature for the area and the state. Over the last decade, the ponds and associated wetlands became infested with non-native and invasive plant growth, specifically, common reed (Phragmites australis), porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). These species developed dense monotypic stands throughout the wetland areas and significantly encroached on the ponded areas, reducing open water. As a result of this invasive species colonization and the subsequent loss of species diversity and richness, the property owner sought to develop a project to control the invasive plant growth, restore open water and increase a diverse native plant assemblage.

Site Assessment & Plan Design
Coastal freshwater wetlands support many desirable and even rare native plant and animal species; therefore, the introduction and expansion of invasive plant growth threatens the resources’ ability to provide the habitats necessary for these species to flourish. In order to design an appropriate wetland restoration plan, the project team first cataloged plant species and mapped existing habitat zones.

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Topics: Invasive Species, Published Articles

Invasive Species Highlight: Starry Stonewort

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 30, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist and Senior Business Development Consultant

starry-stonewort-d.jpgStarry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) is a species of macroscopic green algae in the Characeae family. It was first discovered in the United States in 1978 in the St. Lawrence River, but has since spread to Michigan, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont. When the algae were first discovered in new areas, they were often misidentified as less invasive native species of macroscopic algae. However, the growth habit of starry stonewort is much more aggressive and robust, and can reach nuisance abundances. These nuisance plants can reduce the growth of desirable aquatic vegetation, reduce suitable fish habitat and cause fishing frustration. Although the algae are non-vascular and have no true plant structures, they have been found to grow as much as eight feet tall. The blooms have severe negative impacts on the habitats where they occur, and have posed unique challenges for lake managers in these areas.

Now that the presence of starry stonewort has become more familiar to lake managers, it is actually quite easy to identify. The blooms appear more “raggedy” than other macroscopic algae species, and have much greater height and biomass. They are also characterized by distinctive “starry” rhizoids, also known as bulbils, which are the reproductive structures of the pond algae. The blooms are very transient, and are subject to a “boom and bust” phenomenon where large blooms will crash suddenly and unpredictably. This can cause hazardous low dissolved oxygen conditions in the waterbodies where it occurs.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

Invasive Species Highlight: Hydrilla

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 23, 2017

Written by Industry Expert, Emily Mayer, Aquatic Biologist

invasive-hydrilla-e.jpgHydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that is plaguing freshwater ecosystems in the US, particularly in the South, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and (most recently) the Northeast. Hydrilla has several distinguishing characteristics. Its small leaves are arranged in whorls of three to eight, and these leaves are heavily serrated and can be seen without the aid of magnification. Reproduction typically occurs through fragmentation, although hydrilla also produces tubers, which are subterranean potato like structures. These tubers can stay dormant in the sediment for up to 12 years, causing significant challenges in eradication.

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Topics: Invasive Species, Pond Management Best Practices

Non-native Invasive Species Highlight: Purple Loosestrife

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Apr 18, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Jason Luce, Lake Management Scientist, Fisheries & Wildlife Scientist and Certified Lake Manager

Purple LoosestrifeYou have just purchased beautiful purple flowers for your outdoor garden. The flowers compliment the nearby bushes and ornamental pond nicely, but what if I were to tell you that those newly planted flowers have the potential to naturally spread and negatively alter a nearby wetland; shifting the ecosystem from a diverse and beautiful habitat to a uniform, impenetrable purple landscape. Would you still plant them?

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is an invasive herbaceous perennial and has caused the above scenario to become all too familiar across the US. Although the perennial is now widely considered to be invasive and should not be sold, the damage has been done. Therefore, management of purple loosestrife tends to be more heavily focused on control as opposed to prevention.

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Topics: Invasive Species

Zebra Mussels: Invasive & Harmful Aquatic Hitchhikers

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Feb 23, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Kara Sliwoski, Aquatic Biologist

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are an increasingly problematic invasive species found throughout North American waterbodies and waterways. They are a small shellfish, regularly the size of a dime, that can grow to almost two inches in length, at their largest. Their namesake comes from the striped pattern typically exhibited on their shells. However, shell patterns can vary significantly between individuals and in some instances the mussels can have no stripes at all.

Native to Russia, zebra mussels are believed to have been introduced into the Great Lakes via ballast water from a visiting ship in the mid-1980s. They prefer colder freshwater habitats, but have also been found in slightly saline environments. Since their introduction, zebra mussels have spread throughout the Great Lakes and into the Ohio and Mississippi River basins, which is their primary area of distribution. To date, zebra mussels have been documented in at least 28 states and over 600 waterbodies; locations range from western New England to along the Missouri River in South Dakota and along the Arkansas River in Kansas. Unfortunately, there are scattered locations gradually appearing as far west as California as well.

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Topics: Invasive Species

Wetland Invasive Species Management: Controlling Phragmites & Purple Loosestrife

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 04, 2016

Wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. In addition to providing a home to an immense variety of plants, microbes, insects, fish and other wildlife, wetlands serve a number of essential functions. They act like natural sponges by storing and slowly releasing water, thus helping to reduce erosion and minimizing flooding in surrounding areas. Wetlands also help to protect and improve water quality by acting as filters to surrounding watersheds, absorbing pollutants and unwanted nutrients.

Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment; however, their sustainability is often compromised when they are taken over by non-native plant species. These invasive species are typically introduced as a result of human activity such farming, recreation or urban development. They can out-compete native species by shading them out or creating a complex root system that prevents growth of other plants, and can severely threaten the long-term health of wetland areas. That is why it is vital to have an understanding of the invasive species that threaten your wetlands, and to work with professionals to determine the best management plan for controlling these unwanted intruders.

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Topics: Invasive Species

Habitat Restoration: Eradicating Invasive and Non-Native Species

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 14, 2016

Written by Industry Expert, Bob Schindler, Aquatic Biologist and Territory Leader

03_Ft_Eustis_Phragmites_Treatment_07.13_48_e.jpgInvasive species management continues to be a focus of habitat restoration to improve or reestablish natural balanced communities of native ecologically valuable plant species. Achieving the management goal of eradicating invasive species in a wetland or upland habitat environment involves many of the same considerations as executing a lake or pond management program, with the exception that the progress and results are immediately visible and more accurately quantifiable. Habitat improvement projects can range in scale from small residential infestations to restoration programs that encompass thousands of acres. All habitat restoration sites include the same preliminary research prior to initiating any management activity.

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Topics: Invasive Species

Upland Invasive and Wetland Invasive Species Control

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 18, 2016

Written by Industry Expert, David Ellison, Aquatic Biologist and Regional Director

FED_EX_Phrag_Treatment_2_e.jpgInvasive species are non-native species that have entered an area where they have not previously been present. Invasive plant species can be found in a wide array of ecosystems with the most commonly thought of being the aquatic environment. Landscape areas, upland and forested sites, as well as agriculture lands can all have invasive species present, and the site location can often depict the type and level of control. These species are likely to cause some harm to the ecosystem and impacts to the environment, the economy, and even human life in some situations are possible when invasive species are introduced to a new ecosystem.

Invasive species have a competitive advantage as they typically exhibit the following characteristics:

• Aggressive Growth
• Adaptability
• Few Natural Controls
• Difficult to Control

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Topics: Invasive Species

New Aquatic Invasive Species: Crested Floating Heart – How Far Can it Go?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Apr 28, 2015

By Industry Expert Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist 

Nymphoides_cristata_-_Non-native_eOne of the challenges of working throughout the Mid-Atlantic region is becoming familiar with the variety of plants and wildlife that are native to the different climates and habitats, as well as the non-native, invasive plants that may be problematic in each area. When new invasive plants begin to invade a geographic area, it is often difficult to predict the tolerance of the plants to the climatic factors and the potential extent of the invasion.

A new invasive species is making its way northward and could soon pose a significant problem for aquatic resources in the Mid-Atlantic States. Crested floating heart (Nymphoides cristata) is a rooted, floating-leaf plant that is native throughout Asia. Because it is an attractive plant with heart-shaped leaves and showy white flowers, it has been widely sold in the ornamental plant trade, which was the source of its introduction to the waters of the United States. It was initially identified in Naples, Florida in 1996, and began to spread rapidly through the canals of southern and central Florida. In 2006, it was found in Lake Marion in South Carolina, and in less than 2 years it spread from 20 acres to 2,000 acres!!

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Topics: Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Policies

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Dec 30, 2014

Brought to you by our trusted partners at SePRO CorporationWritten by Mark Heilman, Senior Aquatics Technology Leader

No-swimmingAquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are easily transferred between different bodies of water and pose a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems. Public policy and common practices of water users should seek to limit spread and prevent new introductions. However, once AIS are introduced, management should be rapidly implemented to contain spread and reduce impact of new invasions.

The Break-Down of Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species are what they sound like: aquatic organisms that invade ecosystems outside of their natural range. They are almost always transferred unintentionally (i.e., accidental introduction), but when they are introduced into a new ecosystem, they can potentially wreak havoc. They typically reduce habitat quality of invaded systems and, in some cases, pose a direct risk to human safety and health (examples: dangerous swimming conditions in heavy weed beds or risk of injury from invasive mussel shells). Outside of their native range, AIS have few natural processes that keep them in check, so they often grow out of control and become dominant in impacted water bodies.

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Topics: Invasive Species

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