Invasive Potential of the Aquatic Macrophyte Cryptocoryne beckettii
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Invasive species are a major threat to global biodiversity, resulting in a need to understand characteristics that cause a species to be invasive and increasing pressure to control or eradicate invasive species in order to mitigate their impacts. Cryptocoryne beckettii, native to Sri Lanka, has been introduced to the U.S. and is known to occur in freshwater ecosystems in Florida and Texas. Cryptocoryne beckettii, a relatively new introduction, is listed as invasive by the USDA. New introductions should be carefully studied to determine their potential to invade habitats, and, should they prove to be invasive, determine whether or not the public will support management efforts. My study objectives were to: 1) determine ability of C. beckettii to reproduce asexually; 2) determine environmental factors influencing vegetative growth in C. beckettii; 3) determine community awareness, perceptions, and attitudes towards invasive species and their control in the San Marcos River; and, 4) determine effectiveness of dredging to control C. beckettii in the San Marcos River. I found that C. beckettii is capable of vegetative reproduction, with 24-34% of rhizome segments producing plantlets over a 12-week period. While significantly more plantlets were produced at a cooler temperature, plantlets were also produced at both moderate and warm temperatures demonstrating tolerance for a range of temperatures. To assess public awareness of invasive species, I administered a survey instrument and found that the public’s overall awareness of invasives in the San Marcos River was moderate. There was a high level of support for control and eradication programs, mainly among men. Proposed management methods influenced levels of support and projects involving chemical controls or animal death were least supported.