National Invasive Species Awareness Week
Invasive species (harmful non-native species) are one of the most significant drivers of global change. Consequently, they can have substantial impacts on the economy, infrastructure, and humans. Society must address invasive species as a priority, which is exactly what National Invasive Species Awareness Week intends to do. The objective of National Invasive Species Awareness Week is to bring attention to the impacts, prevention, and management of invasive species – and all those who are working toward healthy, biodiverse ecosystems.
Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, including endangered species that rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival. The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island apple snails, and nutria. Invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands by out-competing native species for food and natural resources, often without any natural predator or control to halt the resulting aggressive spread through an area. CWPPRA strives to protect wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species’ dominance and health within the wetlands.
For a full list of Invasive species in Louisiana, click here.
CWPPRA continues to raise awareness and identify solutions to protect our wetlands by implementing projects to target invasive wetland species such as the Coastwide Nutria Control Program and Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility.
The invasive plant, giant Salvinia, was first observed in Chenier Plain marshes in 2009. Since then it has spread throughout most of the Louisiana Chenier Plain marshes. This plant can stack up above the water surface to as much as 6 to 12 inches. Under such conditions, oxygen exchange is greatly reduced, and decay of shaded Salvinia can easily cause anoxic conditions in affected areas. As a result, habitat quality of badly infested areas is severely degraded, and may affect many species typical of fresh marshes, including many species of management concern (alligator snapping turtle, mottled duck [including critical brood rearing habitat], wintering migratory waterfowl, black rail, king rail, little blue heron, whooping crane, and peregrine falcon).
LSU Ag. Center has a pond in Jeanerette, La. which is capable of producing weevil-infested Salvinia, but LSU does not have funding to operate a weevil production facility here. Costs associated with this project consists primarily of supplies and one part-time position to operate the pond, coordinate public weevil harvests, keep records of release locations, monitor Salvinia problem areas, assist landowners in conducting weevil release, relay infested Salvinia to new locations, and conduct public outreach to promote the program.
The Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility project is located coastwide.
This project was approved for Phase I, Phase II, and Operation in January 2017.
This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 26.
The Louisiana Salvinia Weevil Propagation Facility project sponsors include:
Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.
Plants of the wetlands are generally known to be highly dependent upon specific conditions, such as salinity, proximity to water, and vegetation type.
While some plants are able to adapt to condition alterations, other species do not overcome change as well. However, a major threat to all wetland vegetation is hydrilla.
Hydrilla is a non-native, invasive aquatic plant that has staked its claim by out-competing native plants and obstructing waterways. Hydrilla is a submerged, perennial plant that prefers freshwater, but can tolerate up to 7% salinity. This aggressive plant is known for clogging waterways, impeding natural flow, affecting human use such as fishing and seafood harvest, and clogging intakes and municipal drinking water supplies. Hydrilla can take over an area quickly as a result of its ability to multiply rapidly using four different strategies. Regrowth of stem fragments containing at least one node into a new plant, tubers on rhizomes producing new tubers, leaf turions that settle into sediment and form a new plant, and seed dispersal are all methods of reproduction for hydrilla. Hydrilla can out-compete native plants by its ability to tolerate low and high nutrient conditions in addition to growing in low light environments. Hydrilla is also successful in out-competing other plants by growing at a rate of one inch per day until reaching the water’s surface, followed by branching out to form a mat of vegetation which blocks light to other plants.
In order to control the growth of hydrilla, salvinia weevils have been released into severely affected areas. The salvinia weevil lives exclusively on hydrilla as a food source, thus reducing growth rates to allow control of the plant. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act is currently researching the best, most beneficial method of controlling and eradicating invasive plant species.
Wetlands are natural ecosystems that provide an abundance of wealth to not only it’s inhabitants, but also to surrounding communities. Wetlands provide benefits ranging from water filtration to storm surge protection; however, wetlands have become vulnerable to invasive species. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause damage. Known as major contributors to wetland and coastal habitat loss, invasive species also threaten native species, as well as endangered species who rely exclusively on the wetlands for survival.
The foreign animals that have been recognized as invasive to coastal wetlands include Asian carp, wild boar, island applesnails, and nutria. The invasive plant species include Chinese tallow, common reed, and purple loosestrife. Invasive animal and plant species have altered the health of wetlands in some way; CWPPRA strives to protect the wetlands by constructing methods to diminish the invasive threat and restore native species dominance and health within the wetlands.