Propagation and Production of Native Aquatic Plants
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER OMAHA NE
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BACKGROUND Aquatic system restoration often involves establishment or reestablishment of native aquatic plant communities. The role of plants in aquatic systems is significant in addition to providing valuable fish and wildlife habitat Dibble et al. 1996, aquatic plants can improve water clarity and quality James and Barko 1990, reduce rates of shoreline erosion and sediment resuspension James and Barko 1995, and help prevent spread of nuisance exotic plant species Smart and Doyle 1995. Efforts to restore beneficial aquatic plant communities are best concentrated on establishment of small, protected plant colonies at strategic locations within unvegetated reservoirs Smart and Dick 1999. Once successfully established, these plants serve as founder colonies, which will spread beyond their protective borders to adjacent, unvegetated areas of the reservoir when conditions are favorable. Each restoration project usually requires many individuals of several aquatic plant species. Because acquisition of large numbers of appropriate plant propagules in a timely manner can be difficult, the authors have begun developing methods for producing their own transplants, tailored to each specific project. Although commercial suppliers may provide some of the plant materials needed for a restoration project, propagule production may be preferred for several reasons. Currently, only a limited selection of aquatic plant species particularly submersed plant species is readily available from commercial sources. Propagule types offered are also frequently unsuited to the demands of plant establishment in large water bodies. For the most part, stem fragments, seeds, root crowns, or dormant perennating organs tubers, winterbuds are sold commercially. These propagules are weak, and require near-ideal conditions for successful establishment.