J Plant Ecol ›› 2014, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (6): 499-508.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtt063

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Interactions between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and native water stargrass in Cayuga Lake, NY, USA

Bin Zhu1,* and Samuel E. Georgian2   

  1. 1 Department of Biology, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117, USA; 2 Department of Biology, Temple University, 1900 N 12 Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
  • Received:2013-08-16 Accepted:2013-11-24 Published:2014-11-20
  • Contact: Zhu, Bin

Abstract: Aims Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.) is a common invasive plant in American lakes and has many negative impacts on invaded ecosystems. Drastic decline of this plant at the northern end of Cayuga Lake in the New York State has occurred since the 1980s, with a much smaller magnitude of decline of Eurasian watermilfoil at the southern end (Johnson et al. 2000) During the same period, increases in the abundance of native plants, particularly water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia (Jacq.) MacMill.), have been observed (Johnson et al. (1998)) We aimed to investigate the mechanisms responsible for the decline of Eurasian watermilfoil and evaluate the responses of co-occurring plants at the two ends of Cayuga Lake over time. We hypothesized that plant interactions might have contributed to the drastic decline of Eurasian watermilfoil, particularly allelopathy by native water stargrass.
Methods A lake survey was conducted to assess distribution and abundance of plant communities at the northern end and the southern end of Cayuga Lake. Additionally, two sets of greenhouse experiments were conducted to investigate the interactions between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and native water stargrass. A competition experiment evaluated intra- versus inter-specific competition among plants grown together; an allelopathy experiment examined the responses of plants to each other's extracts.
Important findings The lake survey showed that water stargrass was extremely abundant at the northern end, whereas Eurasian watermilfoil was sparse at the northern end but one of the most common species at the southern end. The survey also revealed that water stargrass was more abundant than Eurasian watermilfoil at sites where the two species coexisted in the lake. Results from greenhouse experiments revealed no effects of Eurasian watermilfoil on water stargrass growth. However, Eurasian watermilfoil biomass was reduced by 46% when treated with high concentration of water stargrass extracts. This is likely due to osmotic effects rather than allelopathic effects of water stargrass. We proposed several possible reasons for the drastic decline of Eurasian watermilfoil and the increase in water stargrass abundance at the northern end of Cayuga Lake, including space competition, nutrients, substrates, wind exposure and water clarity in addition to insect herbivory and mechanic harvesting.

Key words: allelopathy, biological invasion, plant interactions, space competition, submerged macrophytes

摘要:
Aims Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.) is a common invasive plant in American lakes and has many negative impacts on invaded ecosystems. Drastic decline of this plant at the northern end of Cayuga Lake in the New York State has occurred since the 1980s, with a much smaller magnitude of decline of Eurasian watermilfoil at the southern end (Johnson et al. 2000) During the same period, increases in the abundance of native plants, particularly water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia (Jacq.) MacMill.), have been observed (Johnson et al. (1998)) We aimed to investigate the mechanisms responsible for the decline of Eurasian watermilfoil and evaluate the responses of co-occurring plants at the two ends of Cayuga Lake over time. We hypothesized that plant interactions might have contributed to the drastic decline of Eurasian watermilfoil, particularly allelopathy by native water stargrass.
Methods A lake survey was conducted to assess distribution and abundance of plant communities at the northern end and the southern end of Cayuga Lake. Additionally, two sets of greenhouse experiments were conducted to investigate the interactions between invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and native water stargrass. A competition experiment evaluated intra- versus inter-specific competition among plants grown together; an allelopathy experiment examined the responses of plants to each other's extracts.
Important findings The lake survey showed that water stargrass was extremely abundant at the northern end, whereas Eurasian watermilfoil was sparse at the northern end but one of the most common species at the southern end. The survey also revealed that water stargrass was more abundant than Eurasian watermilfoil at sites where the two species coexisted in the lake. Results from greenhouse experiments revealed no effects of Eurasian watermilfoil on water stargrass growth. However, Eurasian watermilfoil biomass was reduced by 46% when treated with high concentration of water stargrass extracts. This is likely due to osmotic effects rather than allelopathic effects of water stargrass. We proposed several possible reasons for the drastic decline of Eurasian watermilfoil and the increase in water stargrass abundance at the northern end of Cayuga Lake, including space competition, nutrients, substrates, wind exposure and water clarity in addition to insect herbivory and mechanic harvesting.