Conservation of aquatic plant areas is crucial to promote a balanced ecosystem of food and habitats for fish and birds. Natural interactions in aquatic communities are supported by native aquatic plants that help improve water quality by removing nutrients, controlling erosion, and contributing to the asthetic beauty of water bodies (Madsen et al., 2008; Main et al., 2006).
However, diversity of native aquatic plants is reduced by the introduction of exotic (nonnative) invasive aquatic plants that choke waterways, change nutrient cycles, and reduce recreational use of water bodies (Dibble et al., 1996; Godfrey and Wooten, 1981; Office of Technology Assessment, 1993). The removal of invasive aquatic plants is necessary to restore balance in native aquatic systems.
Southern naiad may prove to be a good candidate to reestablish some aquatic plant communities in natural areas previously colonized by invasive plants (Smart et al., 1996). Because it is superficially similar in form/habit and grows in similar areas, southern naiad is a Florida-native plant that is often mistaken for the invasive weed hydrilla (University of Florida, 2015).
Hydrilla control and growth in different substrates and at fertilizer rates has been researched (Mony et al., 2007; Sutton, 1990), whereas studies on the growth of southern naiad have focused on its roles in fish communities rather than on its growth. Because of their similarity, we questioned if we could use similar production protocols developed with hydrilla to grow southern naiad to increase its production and expand its use in natural aquatic ecosystem restoration. The objective of this study was to determine which substrate and controlled-release fertilizer rate would result in the best southern naiad growth to establish a production protocol for southern naiad using standard greenhouse supplies.
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