Biologists at the University of Central Florida recently completed a study that shows this slender tree once used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, may be thriving because of water-management projects initiated in the 1950s. Canals were built to control runoff and provide water for agriculture. The unintended consequence -- stable water levels -- allowed Carolina Willow to spread and thrive.
UCF scientists study the Carolina Willow in Florida's waterways.
They now cover thousands of acres. Willows form impenetrable thickets that prevent boating and eliminate duck habitat. Willow thickets also use tremendous amounts of water, leaving less available for wildlife and people.
The findings were published today in Restoration Ecology, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration. The St. Johns Water Management District funded the study.
While the trees previously were kept in check by natural annual flooding, they can now be found thriving in wetlands, swamps and marshes. Some trees grow as tall as 35 feet. The leaves of the tree contain salicin, which is the compound behind the pain-relieving effect of salicylic acid found in aspirin.
UCF professors Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio and John Fauth worked with Kimberli Ponzio and Dianne Hall, scientists from the St. Johns River Water Management District, to run experiments that found ways to control the willow, which is taking over marshes in the upper St. Johns River basin.
UCF students helped plant hundreds of willow seedlings and saplings onto small islands built for the project by the St. Johns River Water Management District's staff. Willows planted low on the islands drowned during summer floods, but plants above the waterline grew and flowered one year later.
The biologists confirmed the importance of water fluctuation using experimental ponds on UCF's main campus. Willow seedlings and saplings planted on the pond banks grew poorly when the biologists raised the water level and flooded the plants for several months. At the same time, control plants just above the waterline grew over 3 feet tall.
Combined, the two experiments show that the key to controlling willow is allowing water levels to fluctuate in early spring. Seedlings and small saplings cannot survive dry conditions and are easily drowned in wet marshes. Once plants become larger, willows can survive droughts and tolerate floods and are very difficult to eradicate, Fauth said.
Based on the conclusions of the study, the UCF biologists are helping scientists at the water district develop new ways to reduce willow cover and slow down the expansion, Fauth said.
"It's important that these trees be controlled to maintain water quality and availability, conserve wildlife and continue enjoying recreational activities in the river, " Fauth said.
The study may also aid other countries fighting the Carolina willow, including Australia and South Korea where they were introduced for erosion control.
Quintana-Ascencio joined UCF in 2003 after working at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. He has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has been a guest scholar at institutions around the world including the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. He also has earned several fellowships and has published more than 60 articles and book chapters.
Fauth also joined UCF in 2003. Previously he had worked at the College of Charleston and at Denison University. He has a Ph.D. in zoology from Duke University. He has written more than 35 articles and book chapters. He also serves on several boards and was a founding member of the Coral Disease and Health Consortium.
Other contributors to the study include: former UCF biology student Luz M. Castro Morales and Ken Snyder of the St. Johns River Water Management District.
50 Years of Achievement: The University of Central Florida, the nation's second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. UCF has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation, and today the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. Known as America's leading partnership university, UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region's success now and into the future. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.
Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | EurekAlert!
Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses