Starry stonewort, an invasive green alga, is relatively new to the Midwest and is currently expanding across the region. In order to understand the impact starry stonewort will have on freshwater ecosystems—native species in particular—ERI Fellow Ranjan Muthukrishnan and his team are conducting ecological surveys in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota lakes. This geographic range reflects a gradient of climatic conditions that serve as a proxy for future climate change. In these surveys, the team will monitor how quickly starry stonewort spreads, what impacts it has on native species, and other environmental factors that influence invasion.
Additionally, the team is examining the social side of aquatic invasions by interviewing the people who live on or manage the lakes where starry stonewort is found. By understanding the perceptions people have of aquatic invasive species and the management practices associated with them, the team aims to inform future management decisions, which must go beyond the science of invasion and consider local attitudes to maximize the chances of a successful outcome.
See more on this project from the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC).