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Nuisance Aquatic Plant Highlight: Fanwort

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 23, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Brea Arvidson, Aquatic Biologist

FanwortWhat’s purple and green, with a little white flower? Fanwort: it’s a competitive aquatic plant that grows in dense mat-forming patches. Its submersed leaves are its name-sake — dissected into a thin, flat fan-shaped display. The submersed leaves grow approximately 5 cm across and appear in opposite pairings on the stem. Small, diamond-shaped floating leaves are sometimes present at maturity, growing up to 3 cm long, but only 4 mm wide. The 3-petaled flower is inconspicuous and typically blossoms right at the water’s surface.

To date, fanwort occurs in 28 U.S. states, of which 12 

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

Combating Invasive Species While Protecting Native Plants Downstream

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 12, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Amanda Mahaney, Aquatic Biologist

FanwortAgawam Mill Pond, located in Wareham, Massachusetts, is a 150-acre waterbody owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is managed by the MA Division of Fish and Wildlife (MA DFG). It is used heavily for recreational activities, such as boating, fishing and swimming, and supports moderate residential development. The pond has an average depth of six to eight feet with a maximum depth of twelve feet; therefore, emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation has the capability to flourish, rapidly expanding into dense colonies. Currently, the invasive, non-indigenous submersed vegetation (fanwort and variable watermilfoil) has inundated the pond causing a decline in water quality and has severely limited recreational activities for residents and guests.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

The Vectors of Invasive Phragmites Spread & Effective Control Methods

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 15, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Richard Ruby III, Aquatic Biologist

PhragmitesPlants become classified as invasive species when they invade areas outside of their native range, upset the natural community they have invaded and cause considerable damage to either the ecology or economy of an area. Phragmites australis, or common reed, is a plant that most definitely meets all of these criteria. Native to Europe and Asia, invasive Phragmites is an aggressive colonizer of a variety of wetland habitats across the United States. Once established, the nuisance plant’s growth habits allow it to quickly outcompete most native species, ultimately creating a dense monoculture which reduces species richness and overall habitat value. As a result of these invasive characteristics, Phragmites has become a significant threat to freshwater and coastal wetlands across the country.

Whether managing established Phragmites colonies or endeavoring to prevent its introduction, it is critically important to understand the plant’s methods of reproduction and dispersal. Phragmites is spread through several means, called vectors. The natural reproduction of Phragmites is accomplished in three ways: by seed, rhizome fragmentation and the use of stolons. Seeds can be spread by the wind, wetland birds, surface currents and wave action as well as on recreational and construction vehicles. Expansion through the development of stolons (lateral vegetative growth of the stem), also allows for very rapid spread of the infestation. Rhizomes, the underground root structures of the plant, when fragmented through land disturbance or other natural processes such as erosion, have the potential to become re-rooted in any suitable area they are deposited. ATVs and construction vehicles can also be vectors of rhizomal spread if the root debris is not removed when leaving a Phragmites infested area.

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Topics: Invasive Species, Buffer Management

Nuisance Aquatic Plant Highlight: Watermeal

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 10, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Amanda Mahaney, Aquatic Biologist

Watermeal_Woes_pic1_cropped_e.jpg“What is that green scum on the surface of my pond?”

Is this a question you have asked yourself before? If so, further investigations are in order. It may not be “green scum” or pond algae after all, but rather a tiny plant called watermeal, with no roots, stems or “true” leaves. By simply rubbing this tiny, pale green plant between your fingers, it will most likely resemble cornmeal.

Watermeal prefers slow-moving or stagnant, nutrient-rich waterbodies and is frequently found among its closest relative, duckweed (Lemna spp.). Although it is commonly used as a food source and camouflage cover for wildlife, it can easily develop dense mats when proper conditions allow for it. Sunlight penetration necessary for aquatic vegetation growth and oxygen concentrations essential for the health of underwater wildlife can all be negatively affected by concentrated growth of watermeal and duckweed.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

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 MusselsZebra 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

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