Retention of viability by fragmented invasive Crassula helmsii, Elodea canadensis and Lagarosiphon major

Neil E. Coughlan, Fearghail Armstrong, Connie Baker-Arney, Kate Crane, Ross N. Cuthbert, Marcel A.K. Jansen, Louise Kregting, Gina Y.W. Vong, Jaimie T.A. Dick

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Invasive aquatic macrophytes tend to reproduce and spread through vegetative means, often via fragmentary propagules. Dispersal among aquatic sites may occur overland via attachment to various vectors, or within river systems by directional water currents. However, for many species the relationship between fragment size and resumption of growth is unknown. Here, we assessed resumption of growth of apical and mid-stem fragments of invasive Crassula helmsii, Elodea canadensis and Lagarosiphon major. Proportionally, apical fragments tended to more readily resume growth than mid-stem sections, especially for E. canadensis and L. major (80–100%). However, viability did not scale linearly with increasing fragment size, which suggests that fragment size is not a singular determinant of propagule fitness. Nevertheless, longer fragments generally produced greater numbers of shoots and roots, but root production significantly differed among species and was determined through an interaction between plant section, species and fragment length. Overall, all species produced new shoots and roots from fragments as small as 10 mm. C. helmsii mid-stem fragments standardised by node counts did not display new growth (up to 10 nodes), while E. canadensis tended to show greater shoot and root production with increasing node counts. It is evident that a medium to high proportion of small fragmentary propagules of these invasive macrophytes can retain viability. These data have clear implications for understanding the dispersal of these invasive species and their management. Specifically, cutting and dredging may increase rather than decrease infestations, especially in downstream directions. Thus, in the absence of adequate fragment containment, current short-term control strategies may in fact be counterproductive.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Feb 2022


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