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GLIN==> IL-IN Sea Grant News: Are You Buying Invasive Water Garden Plants?
- Subject: GLIN==> IL-IN Sea Grant News: Are You Buying Invasive Water Garden Plants?
- From: Irene Miles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 09 May 2007 09:28:08 -0500
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: GLIN-Announce
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2007
Source: Reuben Keller (312)804-7686; email@example.com
Are You Buying Invasive Water Garden Plants?
URBANA - Aquatic invasive species, which have had serious ecological
impacts and led to steep economic costs in the Great Lakes region, are
probably available right now at a retailer near you. When University of
Notre Dame researchers went shopping for invasive species, they found a
number of them for sale in the southern Lake Michigan region.
With funding from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, David Lodge, biologist, and
his graduate student Reuben Keller, set out to assess whether the trades
contribute to the introduction and spread of invasive species. They
shopped at pet and nursery retailers both large and small, as well as
fish markets in Chicago. The researchers found many invasive and
potentially invasive species, often misidentified.
?At pet stores, we were able to purchase species that are already
invasive, such as rusty crayfish and Asiatic clam,? said Keller. ?With
these animals, the biggest risk is increasing their spread in local
At Asian markets in Chicago, they found bighead carpoften taken home
alive. Both bighead and silver carp pose a serious threat to the Great
Lakes ecosystem if they become established in Lake Michigan. (The City of
Chicago has since outlawed the live sale of both species.)
It was nurseries, however, that provided the richest source of invasive
species. ?Water gardening poses the greatest risk for new introductions
and invasions,? said Keller. ?It is a booming business, and shoppers
often want the newest and prettiest plants that are hardy for the region.
This means that each year there is an influx of new plants that are
capable of surviving in the environment.?
Of the plant species for sale, many are already serious invaders in the
Great Lakes region, including water chestnut (Trapa natans),
yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Eurasian watermilfoil
(Myriophyllum spicatum). Over the past 40 years, Eurasian
watermilfoil has become a serious problem in many local waterways,
crowding out native species and interfering with boating, fishing and
swimming. In Indiana, for example, it can be found in lakes all over the
state, according to Doug Keller (no relation) of the Indiana Department
of Natural Resources. "The State of Indiana spends $700,000 a year
to control Eurasian watermilfoil and we are barely making a dent in the
The researchers found that roughly a third of the plant species purchased
were identified only with common names, which are ambiguous at best. They
also purchased 140 plants that were identified with a scientific name,
but one-third of those names were wrong.
?We came to the conclusion that most aquatic plants sold in the Great
Lakes area are not properly identified, making it impossible for
consumers to be sure what they are buying, and difficult for agencies to
effectively regulate which species are for sale,? said Lodge.
On the bright side, Keller and Lodge's research results are already
informing and inspiring policymakers, natural resource managers and
retailers as they address the threat of invasive species. The City of
Chicago is voting on an ordinance this week to prohibit the possession of
a number of particularly threatening aquatic invasive species. Some
plants on the proposed list of 26 species (13 plants, 13 animals) are
those that Keller and Lodge found at local nurseries. The researchers
worked closely with the Chicago Department of Environment as the
ordinance was crafted and will remain on the advisory board to evaluate
the species list annually. They are now a part of a new effort in
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is collaborating with Indiana Department of
Natural Resources to organize a working group in Indiana that includes
invasive plants experts, along with aquarium, water garden, and other
relevant trade representatives. "We are trying to determine which
plants pose a worrisome threat and whether they are available in
trade," said Doug Keller. "From there we will develop
appropriate strategies that may include new regulations or new management
practices at stores. Raising awareness is key in this process. The
retailers want to know which plants are the 'bad players' so they know
not to sell them to the public."
Keller and Lodge's research is published in the May issue of the journal
Bioscience. The article is titled "Species Invasions from
Commerce in Live Aquatic Organisms: Problems and Possible
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program is one of 30 National Sea
Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines
university, government, business and industry expertise to address
coastal and Great Lakes needs. Funding is provided by the National
Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce,
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at
West Lafayette, Indiana.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
1101 W. Peabody Dr.
Urbana, Il 61801
FAX (217) 333-8046