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 Cristbal 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 Unive
|Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala|
University of Central Florida