After arriving at each lake, Crawford’s team would scan the shore 50 meters on each side of the access point for submerged aquatic vegetation. When plants were spotted, the modified rake was deployed, and a snagged plant sample would be towed to shore by rope. If the sample was identified as an invasive species, a photo was taken, and the sample was collected for the Robert Bebb Herbarium. Environmental conditions, including water temperature and turbidity were also collected at each location.
“We found invasive plants at 45 access points on 25 lakes,” Crawford said. “That’s surprisingly lower than expected, in a really good way.”
As part of the project, Crawford documented each lake’s invasive plant infestations and the potential for each target plant to further invade. While no invasive species is considered “good,” two plants especially concerned the biologist.
“We found alligatorweed all over the McClellan-Kerr navigation system. Because it’s on a commercial navigation channel that gets a lot of traffic, it’s likely this plant will continue to spread.
We also verified a well-known infestation of hydrilla at Lake Murray and documented a new infestation at the nearby Ardmore City Lake. Hydrilla was first reported in the state in 2006 so it’s concerning that it has spread so quickly.”