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Hydrilla invasion and interactions with Vallisneria Katia Engelhardt Appalachian Lab University of Maryland Center for
Hydrilla invasion and interactions
with Vallisneria
Katia Engelhardt
Appalachian Lab
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
In collaboration with former students Todd Chadwell and Lauren McChesney
and the Maryland National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Rooted submersed perennial monocot that is . From appalachianohioweeds.org
Rooted submersed perennial monocot that is .
From appalachianohioweeds.org

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native to tropical Asia www.discoverlife.org
native to tropical Asia
www.discoverlife.org

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Canopy-forming forms thick mats at water surface
Canopy-forming forms thick mats at water surface

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Lives in mostly freshwater habitats Cayuga Inlet Cornell Cooperative Extension
Lives in mostly freshwater habitats
Cayuga Inlet Cornell Cooperative Extension

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Grows to depths > 7m in clear water
Grows to depths > 7m in clear water

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Highly polymorphic; dioecious or monoecious biotypes
Highly polymorphic; dioecious or monoecious
biotypes

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Asexual reproduction when plant fragments, tubers, roots and turions develop into new plants
Asexual reproduction when plant
fragments, tubers, roots and turions develop into
new plants

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Sexual reproduction in late summer. Seeds have a 50% chance of establishing.
Sexual reproduction in late summer. Seeds have a
50% chance of establishing.

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Invasive • Grows under lower light conditions than any other species (needs only 1% of
Invasive
• Grows under lower light conditions than any
other species (needs only 1% of sunlight).
• No coevolved natural enemies to keep it in
check.
• Has several dispersal strategies:
fragments, turions, tubers, seeds.
• Grows rapidly

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Listed as a noxious weed = any plant designated by a federal, state or county
Listed as a
noxious weed
= any plant designated by a federal, state or
county government as injurious to public
health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or
property.

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Hydrilla invasion at Otter Point Creek, MD
Hydrilla invasion at
Otter Point Creek, MD

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Summer 2002 vegetation density
Summer 2002 vegetation density

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Hydrilla impacts on ecosystem • Slows down currents and buffers wave energy. • Enhances water
Hydrilla impacts on ecosystem
• Slows down currents and buffers wave energy.
• Enhances water clarity

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• Tends to enhance production of small fishes. • Can increase dissolved oxygen concentration but
• Tends to enhance production of small fishes.
• Can increase dissolved oxygen concentration
but reduces oxygen circulation and can result
in fish kills.

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• Can be a nuisance because it can block boating channels and limit water sports.
• Can be a nuisance because it can block
boating channels and limit water sports.

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• May enhance habitat for native submersed species, but may also displace species. Lauren McChesney
• May enhance habitat for native submersed
species, but may also displace species.
Lauren McChesney MS thesis

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• In the field, plastic plants physically captured Hydrilla. • Propagule pressure increased the chances
• In the
field, plastic
plants
physically
captured
Hydrilla.
• Propagule
pressure
increased the
chances of
establishment.
Chadwell and Engelhardt 2008, J. Ecology

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Does restoration of a Vallisneria slow down the invasion of Hydrilla? • In greenhouse, Vall
Does restoration of a Vallisneria slow
down the invasion of Hydrilla?
In
greenhouse, Vall
isneria
decreased
Hydrilla
establishment
through nutrient
draw-down in
closed
mesocosms.
Chadwell and Engelhardt 2008, J. Ecology

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Vallisneria versus Hydrilla Lauren McChesney MS thesis
Vallisneria versus Hydrilla
Lauren McChesney MS thesis

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Vallisneria versus Hydrilla Lauren McChesney MS thesis
Vallisneria versus Hydrilla
Lauren McChesney MS thesis

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In summary • Vallisneria has the ability to curb the establishment and growth of Hydrilla.
In summary
• Vallisneria has the ability to curb the
establishment and growth of
Hydrilla.
• Hydrilla can facilitate the
establishment of Vallisneria.
• But, Hydrilla will also compete with
Vallisneria and other native plants.

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Management strategies • Aggressive public education
Management strategies
• Aggressive public education

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Management strategies • Bring back competitors: – enhance water quality – reintroduce Vallisneria and other
Management strategies
• Bring back competitors:
– enhance water quality
– reintroduce Vallisneria and other native plant
species.
Photo credit: Robert Burnett

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Management strategies • Aggressive herbicide policy: – Hard to implement in tidal rivers where water
Management strategies
• Aggressive herbicide policy:
– Hard to implement in tidal rivers where water level
changes constantly.
– Can be toxic to other organisms.
– Can lead to resistance.

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Management strategies • Mechanical removal: – Mechanical cutting produces fragments that can disperse and make
Management strategies
• Mechanical removal:
– Mechanical cutting produces fragments that can
disperse and make the problem even worse.
– Effective in isolated areas where fragments can be
controlled.
From plants.ifas.ufl.edu
Minnetonka Lake Weed Harvesting Service

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Management strategies • Biocontrol: Problem with introducing another non-native to control a non-native. Big problem
Management strategies
• Biocontrol: Problem with introducing another
non-native to control a non-native. Big
problem if the biocontrol agent gets out of
control and impacts other parts of the
ecosystem.

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Eradication • Rare and not well documented • Need to start as soon as the
Eradication
• Rare and not well documented
• Need to start as soon as the invasion is
detected
• Recommend a Hydrilla management task force