As part of WNY PRISM’s work this summer, The PRISM Crew traveled to Chautauqua County during the week of July 27th to aid the Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA) in searching for (and destroying!) water chestnut (Trapa natans) and hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) in the Chautauqua Lake outlet (or the Chadakoin River) which flows eastward from Celeron, NY through the city of Jamestown, New York. Both species of aquatic invasive plants have the potential to establish dense populations that outcompete native vegetation and can limit boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities.
We spent the first part of our week looking for both plants in the outlet with help from a few CLA employees, their barge, and some generously donated kayaks. In order to be thorough, we spent some time surveying inlets and creeks in the area such as Goose Creek, Dutch hollow creek and Bemus creek along with a few marinas. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, it was in the 80s and sunny all week! If anything, we were thankful for some cloud cover! The good news is we only found about 20 water chestnut rosettes (all found within a mile of each other within the outlet) and no hydrilla. If boaters and other residents continue to be on the lookout for these plants, they won’t have a chance to invade beautiful Chautauqua Lake.
Later in the week, we had the opportunity to help Dr. Christopher Pennuto, WNY PRISM Director and a professor of Biology at Buffalo State, search for Oriental Weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) in the inlets of Chautauqua Lake. The weatherfish is known to outcompete native fish for food. The DEC had positively identified a population back in 2010 in Ball Creek, so it was about time for another survey. We used a backpack electrofisher, which uses electricity to stun fish just long enough to sample fish populations. After a few hours of surveying, we found just one weatherfish in Ball Creek. While this shows they are clearly still present in the Chautauqua watershed, the population density is unclear.
We spent our last day in Chautauqua in kayaks surveying the banks of the outlet for other invasive species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), hybrid cat-tails (Typha glauca), phragmites (Phragmites australis), Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). Sadly all of these species were found along the banks of the outlet, however,
their populations are small enough to be managed or even eradicated. You can check out our findings at www.nyimapinvasives.org. On the plus side, we did see a lot of native plants as well; such as water lilies (Nymphaeaceae spp.), spatterdock (Nuphar polysepala) and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) which is always inspiring! We had a wonderful time once again down in Chautauqua (both during and after work hours!) and I can’t wait until I can make it down that way again.
This post was written by Lucy Nuessle, 2015 WNY PRISM Invasive Species Management Assistant