How do herbicides affect lakes?

A Florida lake covered in floating plants.

Motivation

Florida is home to thousands of lakes, which host biodiverse ecosystems and serve as sources of recreation and livelihood for Florida’s citizens. Aquatic invasive plants have colonized lakes across the state, impacting their ecology and hydrology. Managers use herbicides to control aquatic invasive species such as hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). However, herbicide use in Florida lakes has become a public concern. Concerned stakeholders find value in maintaining some populations of aquatic invasive species and worry about the side effects of herbicides.

Approach

I am exploring the effects of herbicides and the invasive species they control on plant and fish communities and water quality in Florida lakes. My research questions include:

  • How effective are herbicides at controlling aquatic invasive species?
  • What are the effects of aquatic invasive species on on native plant diversity, water quality, and fish populations?
  • What are the effects of herbicides on native plant diversity, water quality, and fish populations?

I am doing this research as a postdoc in the Agronomy Department at the University of Florida (UF), advised by Luke Flory and Candice Prince. We are collaborating with Mark Hoyer and James Leary (UF) as well as invasive species experts in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

I am combining and analyzing long-term monitoring data collected by FWC, USACE, other government agencies, and the citizen science program LAKEWATCH to address these questions. Statistical approaches include generalized linear mixed-effect models, state-space models, and fixed effect panel data models.

Key findings

  • stay tuned!
Amy E. Kendig
Amy E. Kendig
Postdoctoral Researcher

ecologist and data scientist specializing in human impacts in plant communities