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Aquatic Plant Ecology Meets the Science of Plant Management

Madsen, J. D. (2012). Aquatic Plant Ecology Meets the Science of Plant Management. 32nd International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society. Madison, WI.


Aquatic Plant Ecology Meets the Science of Plant Management John D. Madsen, Geosystems Research Institute, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762-9627, ph. 662-325-2428, fax 662-325-7692, e-mail Despite the fact that aquatic plants have been managed in this country for over a century, management is often done in ignorance or defiance of the biology and ecology of the target plant, with little understanding of the aquatic ecosystem as a whole. Aquatic plants have specific needs to grow, thrive, and spread: light, nutrients, carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, and an appropriate temperature range. Rooted plants, in particular, grow well in waters of high transparency with low dissolved phosphorus and minimal phytoplankton productivity. Most invasive aquatic plant problems have little to do with cultural eutrophication or even disturbance, but are related to human use of water resources. The presence of nuisance growth by many species is a function of introduction into novel environments, rather than environmental degradation. Understanding of the life history and seasonal growth cycles of plants can be exploited both to target the most susceptible timing of an invasive plant, and maximize the selectivity of the management effort. The key to long-term management of invasive aquatic plants is to successfully target the overwintering and dispersing propagules. Lake managers can learn much about managing invasive plants from terrestrial land managers; management targets a population in a landscape. Management cannot be done in isolation; it must consider the potential impacts of management on ecosystem processes and functions, as well as the uses of the water resource. Lastly, lake managers should consider only technically-sound techniques that are tested by the peer-review research process.

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