Plant diversity doesn’t protect from aquatic invaders, study says
ST. PAUL, Minn. — New research from the University of Minnesota has found no evidence that a diverse plant community in lakes keeps aquatic invaders from taking hold.
The university’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center examined 13 years of vegetation survey data that the state DNR collected from about 1,100 lakes, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The study discovered that invasive plants were better able to adapt to less-than-ideal conditions than native species.
“We found that at the local scale the effects of what other species were there was not all that important,” said Ranjan Muthukrishnan, a research fellow with MAISRC. “Invaders were more or less able to invade independent of how many native species there were.”
The findings may help researchers gain a better understanding of how invasive species take hold in new environments, he said.
“If the native species can only handle sort of these better habitats, there might be this marginal habitat on the edges that invaders can come in and sort of get a toehold in and then expand out from there,” he said.
The findings show the importance of taking preventative steps to halt the spread of invasive species, such as cleaning, draining and drying boats before moving them into a different body of water, Muthukrishnan said.
The study was published in the Journal of Ecology.