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Salvinia Solutions

by Morgan Pitner

Dr. Erickson}: Salvania is the biggest problem in Texas and Louisiana so it’s especially important for researcher to find solutions. {MORGAN}: THE LSUS BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT IS WORKING TIRELESSLY TO FIND A NATURAL ALTERNATIVE TO CONTROL THE GROWTH OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST AQUATIC PEST. DR. AMY ERICKSON IS OVER THE PROJECT AND BELIEVES IN THE URGENCY OF FINDING A SOLUTION BECAUSE OF SALVINIA’S DETREMENTAL EFFECTS TO ECOSYSTEMS. {Dr. Erickson}: Because it grows on the surface of the water, it blocks out a lot of light. There are a lot of underwater plants that need that light. So consequently it kills off a lot of that underwater life. When it does that, you have a lot of bacterial decomposition, which causes the oxygen to be used up. Meaning that we are not only killing off plant life but other organisms as well, such as fish and invertebrates. {MORGAN}: SALVINIA ALSO INFLUENCES ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING. {Dr. Erickson}: What that means is it’s going to influence the transfer of energy to one trophic link to another and it’s also going to influence how nutrients are processed in an eco system. {MORGAN}: JESSICA MAST, A GRADUATE STUDENT CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROJECT SAYS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THE WAY IT’S SPREAD. {Jessica}:It breaks apart very easily, so even a little tiny fragment of it that gets caught in a boat or a birds foot, can spread it to another pond and because the doubling time is so fast, it doesn’t take long. {MORGAN}: ONE EFFECTIVE BUT DANGEROUS SOLUTION IS THE USE OF CHEMICAL HERBICIDES, WHICH CONTAIN COPPER COMPOUNDS. {Jessica}: Several of the herbicides used to kill salvania will also kill your invertebrates. The feeding of birds will be hindered because the environment has been changed. {MORGAN}: ANOTHER ATTEMPTED SOLUTION WAS SALVANIA WEEVILS; THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT THEY HAVE A HARD TIME BREEDING IN TEMPERATURES BELOW 50 DEGREES. THE GOAL IS TO FIND AN AQUATIC PLANT CAPABLE OF CONTROLLING THE RAPID GROWTH WITHOUT HARMING THE ECOSYSTEM. {Jessica}: I go out and collect plants that are growing with salvania, the idea that if they’re growing with salvania, it may have developed a chemical defense that can affect salvania. {MORGAN}: AFTER CLEANING, GRINDING, SEPERATING, SOAKING AND FILTERING THE PLANTS, A SOLUTION IS MADE. {Jessica}: We take the salvania plant, place it in the solution and watch and see if the health and growth rate has changed from our control. We will run the chemicals through the HBLC and see which active chemicals are in solution. After that, we will hopefully be able to proceed and make a concentrate and see which chemicals are affecting the growth rate. {MORGAN}: FINDING A NATURAL SOLUTION IN COMMON PLANTS SUCH AS PENNYWART, WATER LILIES AND …..CAN RADICALLY CHANGE AQUATIC LIFE IN LOUISIANA AND TEXAS. ALTHOUGH THIS IS A LONG PROCESS, THE DEPARTMENT HOPES THE TIME AND ENERGY WILL PAY OFF AFTER FINDING A SAFE ALTERNATIVE. MORGAN PITNER REPORTING ALMAGEST STUDENT NEWS.