Can tropical macrophytes establish in the Laurentian Great Lakes?
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Tropical macrophytes sold in the live garden trade are perceived as unlikely to invade temperate regions owing to climate mismatches. Here we study two tropical macrophytes (Pistia stratiotes and Eichhornia crassipes) not previously considered an invasion risk but which were recently discovered in the Great Lakes, and determine mechanisms that may be responsible for their continued presence including human introduction, reproduction through viable seeds and tolerance of winter conditions. Surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012 revealed recurrent presence of one or both species at some sites. Macrophytes in in situ enclosures failed to survive winter conditions, with plant health declining progressively prior to mortality. Water hyacinth seeds were field-collected, identified using Sanger sequencing, and germinated at 28°C with or without scarification. Germination was highest for scarified versus non-scarified seeds. Human introduction was observed at two sites, one involving both species, the other only water hyacinth. These species likely persist through a combination of annual reintroduction (both species) and possibly by production of viable seed (water hyacinth). Macrophytes, particularly water hyacinth, that were not previously viewed as a threat to the Great Lakes owing to environmental incompatibility may need to be reassessed. © 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
MacIsaac, Hugh J.; Eyraud, A. P.; Beric, B.; and Ghabooli, S., "Can tropical macrophytes establish in the Laurentian Great Lakes?" (2016). Hydrobiologia, 767, 1, 165-174.