Another Deadly Invasion

One more dreadful noxious weed attacks Dal Lake

THREAT

DR. A. MAJEED KAK

    Alligator grass, an aquatic weed also referred to as pig weed is a perennial, floating emergent, noxious invasive weed, has recently invaded all our famous fresh water bodies. Although subtropical weed supposed to be native of S. America has infiltrated our lakes just some years before and has started causing serious threats, like many other noxious invasive. Azolla, a water fern that was reported in the year 2004 for the first time in all our freshwater lakes has unrecordedly deteriorated the essence, charm, water quality and upgraded eutrophication, beside completely wiping out many of our medicinal and highly nutritional aquatic plants and  also lot many underwater life forms from our lakes. Since that time, hue and cry was raised to eradicate this noxious weed being a great threat to our water bodies instead concerned authorities paid deaf ear to our reporting and suggestions with the result proliferation of Azolla is out of control as it has chocked every nook and corner of all our precious lakes by forming thick carpets everywhere in every lake. Nominal surface removal for few days or rare downpour is never remedial measure to control multiplication of the weed because the plant has high power of regeneration; every broken piece regenerates into an adult plant. It has spread in all valley lakes including far flung rural Manasbal Lake and Wular lakes. Thick layers are recorded in Nageen, Dal, Hokher Sar, Anchar and have caused a lot of deterioration to our lakes and are out of control to be eradicated or checked.
  Periodical visits made to monitor deteriorated conditions of all lakes of the valley by collecting water samples and to record the impact of various anthropogenic activities on aquatic vegetation. It was noticed that one more worsen invasive noxious weed has infiltrated almost all our lakes, commonly called Alligator grass and scientifically named as Alternathera  philoxeroides. This weed grows healthy in high-nutrient conditions that obviously indicate that our lakes have turned highly nutritious. This species was reported for the first time in Wular Lake in the year 2008 in dispersed form, but now has spread to all fresh water lakes in thick mats, within such a short period of time, particularly in Dal Lake and in all its tributaries and channels. Now the weed in deep waters has started forming thick mats, large and extensive rafts are floating on the surface of water everywhere in Dal Lake and Nageen, with emergent body. Near shallow waters or lake margins it remains attached to the lake substratum.
Considered one of the worst aquatic weeds in the world as it becomes serious threat to the fresh water bodies, it grows in dense mats with massive underground rhizomatous root system. It obstructs waterways, hinders navigation, increases pollution and wipes all native plants by over shading them. Ultimately underwater life both flora and fauna get completely destroyed. It has been internationally established that the weed cannot be eradicated once it has infested any water body, despite numerous costly attempts. So in many countries attempts have been made to eradicate it as soon it starts infestation in any water body. There is no evident biological control for the weed, even certain permissible chemicals have been used but none has remained successful.
Mechanical removal without care facilitates its proliferation and spreading enormously. Stolens can regenerate from burial to 30 cm deep. Alligator grass bears prominent white flowers which are bisexual but viable seeds are not produced. So reproduction is entirely vegetative by bearing vegetative buds in the submerged stems and propagate enormously and is very difficult to control its proliferation physically.
The weed is worldwide in distribution. In India it is reported from Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Tripura, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, even in Delhi and Punjab. It grows even in marshy boggy places and tolerates all abnormal weather conditions.
Recently it has been established that Alligator grass is considered to be one of the worst aquatic weeds in the world. It has the potential to become a serious threat to waterways, agriculture and the environment. "The Commonwealth of Australia States that, "Alligator weed disrupts the aquatic environments by blanketing the surface of the water impeding penetration of light and gaseous exchange (sometimes leading to anaerobic conditions) resulting adverse affects on flora and fauna. It also Promotes health problems by providing habitats for mosquitoes and other stoning insects and degrade natural aesthetics." Control of this species has proven to be an expensive and complicated ordeal wherever it has established.
It is also stated that Alligator grass has been very rarely successfully eradicated. Once it infests any water body it is very difficult to eradicate, despite numerous costly attempts. For this reason, the highest priority for the management of alligator weed is an effective system of early detection and eradication before infestations become established. This noxious weed reproduces entirely by vegetative means and relies on the production of nodal buds on stems. Each node has two axillary buds. Also thicker roots and underground stems are capable of proliferation.  Spreading is by fragmentation.
Alligator grass is on the Prohibited Aquatic Plant List – (5B-64.011). According to Florida Statute, “No person shall import, transport, cultivate, collect, sell, or possess any noxious aquatic plant listed on the prohibited aquatic plant list established by the department without a permit issued by the department.”
Unfortunately there is no check of such noxious weeds in our State, neither concerned officials nor lake authorities’ bother or take any heed of our yelling. Applying antique and out dated method of surface removal is not a scientific way, instead these methods help noxious weeds to spread more rapidly. It is wished that the lake authorities will take a serious note of it and will make their research and monitoring wing functional and answerable.


(Feedback at amkak7@gmail.com)

Lastupdate on : Mon, 8 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 8 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 9 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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