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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #246504

Title: Introduced aquatic plants and algae

item Anderson, Lars

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Introduced Invasive Species
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2010
Publication Date: 1/15/2011
Citation: Anderson, L.W. 2011. Introduced aquatic plants and algae. Encyclopedia of Introduced Invasive Species. 248-257.

Interpretive Summary: A rapidly expanding preference in urban landscape inc1udes fishponds, aquascapes of various sizes and shapes as well as some indoor/outdoor aquaria displays. Unfortunately this growing activity has over the past 50 years led to the introduction of dozens of rapidly growing, non-native plants and some non-native marine algae. This contribution provides background information and examples of invasive aquatic plant and algae, as well as comparisons of their habitat and resource needs. The hard-copy medium and ultimately Web-based information format will help hobbyists, aquaculturists, and landscape horticulturists to better understand the risks associated with using non-native plants and algae, and in turn should lead to fewer introductions.

Technical Abstract: Non-native aquatic plants such as waterhyacinth and hydrilla severely impair the uses of aquatic resources including recreational faculties (lakes, reservoirs, rivers) as well as timely delivery of irrigation water for agriculture. Costs associated with impacts and management of all types of aquatic weeds range from 1 to 2 billion dollars annually for the US alone. The most problematic species were originally brought to the US (or other continents out of the native regions) for ornamental purposes for aquaria, ponds and aquascape trades. Three basic life forms or ecologically categorized groups include: Submersed, Floating and Emergent weeds, each of which has well-defined requirements for, and sources of nutrients, carbon, water, light and space. Management of these aquatic weeds still depends on a variety of physical, chemical (herbicides, algaecides) and biological control methods. Recent approaches using molecular and genetic markers and probes has helped to clarify the origins and potential hybridization of some invasive aquatic plants and may have promise for development of rapid chemical detection methods that can compliment traditional methods that rely on morphological traits and characters such as flower and seed structure and detailed leaf shapes. This contribution to a general Encyclopedia of invasive species will familiarize the public or scientists who are not specialists in this area with the major features of introduced aquatic plants and some introduced marine algae.