Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $35,014 Total Non-Federal Funds: $70,875
Principal Investigators: Gary Ervin, Lee Turnage
Abstract: Resource managers of public lands, such as national wildlife refuges, are tasked with meeting multiple use needs of the fish and wildlife that reside on these lands, as well as the people who utilize those lands for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. Biologists at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR) have identified the dominance of certain problematic aquatic plants, as a key obstacle to achieving these multiple use needs in lakes and associated wetlands on the refuge. The biologists further indicated that these issues are experienced by many other refuges, wildlife management areas, and private waterbodies in Mississippi and adjacent states. Few methods are currently known that allow the control of the problematic aquatic plants that they encounter, while simultaneously enhancing the diversity of desirable species, maintaining water quality, and providing diverse aquatic habitats that are needed for many species of wildlife and for human users of these facilities. The work proposed here is aimed at determining optimally effective methods of managing invasive and problematic aquatic plants to enhance wetland plant diversity in a way that improves the quality of wetlands as wildlife habitat and sources of recreational use, while minimizing potential negative impacts on water quality and desirable native plant species. The work would be performed in cooperation with NNWR, as part of their mission to “conserve, manage, and restore the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations.” The work we propose would explore a variety of chemical control measures (herbicides) to reduce the abundance of key nuisance plant species, while maintaining diversity of desirable species and also minimizing any negative impacts on key water quality parameters (e.g., dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus). Thus, this work would address numerous focus areas of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, including natural resources conservation, wetland ecology, water quality, and management of problematic aquatic plant species. The ultimate objective of this work is to discover methods to control nuisance aquatic vegetation in wetland and aquatic habitats of areas like NNWR, while minimizing impacts on non-target vegetation and water quality. We will cooperate with NNWR staff in distributing our findings to land managers throughout the region who encounter similar habitat management challenges, in addition to distributing this information through more typical science outlets of peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.