Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pythons, lionfish and now willow invade Florida's waterways

Date:
January 8, 2013
Source:
University of Central Florida
Summary:
Foreign invaders such as pythons and lionfish are not the only threats to Florida's natural habitat. The native Carolina Willow is also starting to strangle portions of the St. Johns River.

Foreign invaders such as pythons and lionfish are not the only threats to Florida’s natural habitat. The native Carolina Willow is also starting to strangle portions of the St. Johns River.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Central Florida

Foreign invaders such as pythons and lionfish are not the only threats to Florida's natural habitat. The native Carolina Willow is also starting to strangle portions of the St. Johns River.

Biologists at the University of Central Florida recently completed a study that shows this slender tree once used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, may be thriving because of water-management projects initiated in the 1950s. Canals were built to control runoff and provide water for agriculture. The unintended consequence -- stable water levels -- allowed Carolina Willow to spread and thrive.

They now cover thousands of acres. Willows form impenetrable thickets that prevent boating and eliminate duck habitat. Willow thickets also use tremendous amounts of water, leaving less available for wildlife and people.

The findings were published January 8 in Restoration Ecology, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration.

While the trees previously were kept in check by natural annual flooding, they can now be found thriving in wetlands, swamps and marshes. Some trees grow as tall as 35 feet. The leaves of the tree contain salicin, which is the compound behind the pain-relieving effect of salicylic acid found in aspirin.

UCF professors Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio and John Fauth worked with Kimberli Ponzio and Dianne Hall, scientists from the St. Johns River Water Management District, to run experiments that found ways to control the willow, which is taking over marshes in the upper St. Johns River basin.

UCF students helped plant hundreds of willow seedlings and saplings onto small islands built for the project by the St. Johns River Water Management District's staff. Willows planted low on the islands drowned during summer floods, but plants above the waterline grew and flowered one year later.

The biologists confirmed the importance of water fluctuation using experimental ponds on UCF's main campus. Willow seedlings and saplings planted on the pond banks grew poorly when the biologists raised the water level and flooded the plants for several months. At the same time, control plants just above the waterline grew over 3 feet tall.

Combined, the two experiments show that the key to controlling willow is allowing water levels to fluctuate in early spring. Seedlings and small saplings cannot survive dry conditions and are easily drowned in wet marshes. Once plants become larger, willows can survive droughts and tolerate floods and are very difficult to eradicate, Fauth said.

Based on the conclusions of the study, the UCF biologists are helping scientists at the water district develop new ways to reduce willow cover and slow down the expansion, Fauth said.

"It's important that these trees be controlled to maintain water quality and availability, conserve wildlife and continue enjoying recreational activities in the river, " Fauth said.

The study may also aid other countries fighting the Carolina willow, including Australia and South Korea where they were introduced for erosion control.

Other contributors to the study include: former UCF biology student Luz M. Castro Morales and Ken Snyder of the St. Johns River Water Management District. The St. Johns Water Management District funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Central Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio, John E. Fauth, Luz M. Castro Morales, Kimberli J. Ponzio, Dianne Hall, Ken Snyder. Taming the Beast: Managing Hydrology to Control Carolina Willow (Salix caroliniana) Seedlings and Cuttings. Restoration Ecology, 7 JAN 2013 DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00940.x

Cite This Page:

University of Central Florida. "Pythons, lionfish and now willow invade Florida's waterways." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108151208.htm>.
University of Central Florida. (2013, January 8). Pythons, lionfish and now willow invade Florida's waterways. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108151208.htm
University of Central Florida. "Pythons, lionfish and now willow invade Florida's waterways." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108151208.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins