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Response of the invasive alga starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) to control efforts in a Minnesota lake

Glisson, Wesley J., Wagner, Carli K., McComas, Steven R., Farnum, Kevin, Verhoeven, Michael R., Muthukrishnan, Ranjan, Larkin, Daniel J.
Lake and reservoir management 2018 v.34 no.3 pp. 283-295
Characeae, applied research, biomass, copper, invasive species, lakes, liquids, macroalgae, mechanical harvesting, monitoring, stakeholders, viability, Minnesota
Glisson WJ, Wagner CK, McComas SR, Farnum K, Verhoeven MR, Muthukrishnan R, Larkin DJ. 2018. Response of the invasive alga starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) to control efforts in a Minnesota lake. Lake Reserv Manage. 00:00–00. Starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa), an invasive green macroalga in the family Characeae, has recently been found for the first time in several Midwestern states. This aquatic invasive species is of increasing concern to management agencies, lakeshore property owners, and other stakeholders. Starry stonewort has proven difficult to control, partly due to its ability to reproduce via bulbils (asexual reproductive structures). There has also been a lack of applied research addressing the efficacy of current management practices for controlling starry stonewort. We examined the effects of mechanical and algaecide treatments on starry stonewort biomass, bulbil density, and bulbil viability by monitoring treated areas and untreated reference locations concurrent with management implemented on Lake Koronis in Minnesota. Chelated copper algaecide applications alone and in combination with mechanical harvesting significantly reduced starry stonewort biomass, but algaecide treatment alone failed to reduce the capacity of starry stonewort to regenerate via bulbils. A second, granular algaecide application following an initial treatment with liquid algaecide did not further reduce biomass in any treated area and was associated with a substantial increase in bulbil density in an area treated with algaecide alone. Bulbil viability was greatest in the area treated only with algaecide (86%) and an untreated reference area (84%) and was lowest in an area treated with both mechanical harvest and algaecide (70%). The ability of starry stonewort to regenerate and persist following algaecide treatment is concerning. Multi-pronged management incorporating both chemical and mechanical approaches may improve outcomes of starry stonewort control efforts.