Hydrilla Hype: Mapping an Invasive Weed in Two Georgia Reservoirs

Category: Identifying Invasive Species Extent & Critical Species Habitat
Project Team: Southeast U.S. Ecological Forecasting III
Team Location: University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia

Hydrilla distribution prediction in Lake J. Strom Thurmond based on Secchi disk depth, October 2015. Image Credit: Southeast Ecological Forecasting III Team

Hydrilla distribution prediction in Lake J. Strom Thurmond based on Secchi disk depth, October 2015. Image Credit: Southeast Ecological Forecasting III Team

Authors:
Shuvankar Ghosh
Austin Haney
Frank Braun
Zachary Conner
Christopher Cooper
Abhishek Kumar

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Deepak Mishra (University of Georgia, Department of Geography)
Dr. Susan Wilde (University of Georgia, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources)

Past/Other Contributors:
Caren Remillard (Center Lead)
Wuyang Cai
Pradeep Kumar Ragu Chanthar
Elizabeth Dyer
Peter Hawman
Brandon Hays
Benjamin Page
Linli Zhu

Abstract:

Hydrilla verticillata is an invasive aquatic plant which has rapidly spread through many inland water-bodies across the Southeastern United States, mainly through inadvertent transfer. Once in a water body, this invasive species generally out-competes native aquatic plants and becomes established as the most dominant vegetative species. Consumption of water for drinking, power generation, and recreational use of lakes has been threatened by the spread of Hydrilla. In recent years it was discovered that Hydrilla serves as a host for an epiphytic, toxic cyanobacteria (Aetokthonos hydrillicola) in some water bodies. Aetokthonos hydrillicola is now known to be the causative agent of the neurodegenerative disease avian vacuolar myelinopathy (AVM), which affects waterfowl, raptors, and amphibians. Using Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) imagery, a rapid assessment tool was developed to accurately map the extent of Hydrilla on Lake Thurmond (Georgia and South Carolina) and Long Branch reservoir in Henry County, Georgia. This tool will act as the foundation for later models intending to predict future locations in need of Hydrilla management.

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