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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Science Program: Place-Based Studies Initiative

Fiscal Year 2003 Project Summary Report

Project: Collection of Information on the Old World Climbing Fern for Use in a Model for Control of this Invading Vine

Starting Date: 09/01/2002 Ending Date: 08/31/2005

Web Sites: ATLSS.ORG

Location: Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Reserve

Funding Source: USGS Federal-State Partnership Funds

Principal Investigators: Donald L. DeAngelis. Phone 305-284-1690, U.S. Geological Survey, at Dept of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124. and
Laura A. Brandt, A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR, 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33437 561/735-6000

Other Supporting Organizations: USGS/BRD, NPS, ACE, EPA

Associated Projects: Related to ATLSS Program

Overview & Status: Lygodium microphyllum (Old World climbing fern) is an aggressive and destructive EPPC category I invasive plant. It has spread, unabated, across the South Florida landscape compromising and destroying a plethora of habitats along the way. Lygodium's ability to spread rapidly and over a long range is a function of its reproductive structures, small spores that can be carried great distance by air currents. While one study has addressed the seasonality of Lygodium spore production, no one has examined the range of spore dispersal. If the bulk of spores produced land near the source, then eradication efforts can be concentrated in and around dense infestations, but if the majority of the spores are carried a great distance then additional efforts may need to be expended to detect and treat small patches before they become reproductive. There is a need to know the distribution of Old World climbing fern (a category I invasive exotic) on the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and throughout South Florida, what factors affect its spread, and the most effective strategies for its control. This study has been designed to collect information on the Old World climbing fern in the Loxahatchee NWR: "Current distribution and control of the invasive Old World climbing fern on the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR and in the South Florida ecosystem." The results of this study will provide core information needed for the control of Old World climbing fern on the refuge and throughout the South Florida Ecosystem.

Needs & Products: There will be three primary products from this project:

  1. Basic information about the life history characteristics of Old World climbing fern and the factors that contribute to its spread and factors that may help to control it. These data will be used in the development of a model to predict which areas are at potential risk for colonization by Old World climbing fern. These data also can be used by other biologists to identify methods of control. Part of this work will be a study to characterize the spore dispersal distribution of Lygodium in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR.
  2. Current high resolution map (minimum mapping unit < 10 m2) map showing the distribution and densities of Old World climbing fern in the interior of A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR. This map (to be used by the refuge manager and staff) will help to identify the leading edge and outlying pockets for control efforts and will and will provide the base for the predictive model of Old World climbing fern spread.
  3. Predictive model of the spread of Old World climbing fern that allows managers to run scenarios to test the effectiveness of different control strategies on the rate and location of spread and to examine the potential influences of alternative water level management on spread. This will allow the user to identify key areas for immediate treatment and follow up, thus maximizing the use of dollars available for treatment. A.R.M. Loxhathcee NWR will be the pilot site for model development, ultimately the model will be applied throughout the South Florida Ecosystem and will help to highlight potential at risk natural areas.

Application to Everglades Restoration: This work will contribute to the control of an invading plant, Old World Climbing Fern, that is a serious threat to the Everglades.

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