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Restoration of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation on Lake Apopka

sediment core sample in tube and seedlings in dish

Lake Apopka has suffered from decades of nutrient and pollutant loading resulting primarily from agricultural runoff. Historically, the lake supported healthy populations of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), but after degradation, the lake has become mostly barren. Restoration of SAV is critical for resident species, such as largemouth bass, that rely on SAV for food, habitat, and healthy water quality. This project is funded by the St. John’s River Water Management District to identify or develop effective strategies for restoring SAV in Lake Apopka. FWRI researchers are consulting with University of Florida (UF) faculty and staff as well as the Aquaculture facility at Duke Energy to advise on seed bank germination, tape grass (Vallisneria sp.) life history, and experimental design. The Freshwater Plants Research teams’ formal contribution is a three-year seed bank emergence study, which entails monthly visits to Lake Apopka to collect sediment cores that are transported to a greenhouse at Eckerd College and evaluated for germination of SAV. Additionally, researchers use side-scan sonar to monitor stability and expansion of tape grass patches in Lake Apopka. These results will be provided to UF along with feedback on status and results of other studies that they are conducting for this project.

Women on boat collecting grass samples

Researchers collecting tape grass on Lake Apopka.