Hybrid watermilfoil in Minnesota: what is it, and where is it?
New research launched from MAISRC this summer is identifying what lakes in Minnesota have hybrid watermilfoil – a combination of invasive Eurasian and native northern watermilfoil – and learning more about its phenology and genetic makeup.
Hybrid watermilfoil is also considered invasive, and some strains have shown increased resistance to herbicide treatments and other management efforts. However, little is known about this hybrid, including what lakes it’s in, whether it’s hybridizing within a lake or if one hybrid strain is being moved among lakes, and how it’s interacting with native plant communities.
“We can’t effectively manage aquatic invasive species in lakes without knowing first exactly what species are present, and without understanding more about that species’ behavior,” said Dr. Ray Newman, lead researcher.
Researchers will sample sixty Minnesota lakes and, in partnership with experts at Montana State University, genetically identify whether the samples are Eurasian, northern, or hybrid. Then, researchers will use molecular genetic techniques on the hybrid specimens to learn more about the specific genotypes.
“Understanding the patterns of hybrid invasion and its genetic diversity will help lake managers develop and improve their management strategies,” added Newman.
Trained citizen scientists from MAISRC’s newly launched AIS Detectors program contributed to this project by helping with the sampling effort. Their efforts improved researchers’ ability to sample such a large number of sites.