Scientists to Investigate Mysterious Lake Plant in Twin Cities Waters

April 01, 2018 10:40 PM

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is on the lookout for a newer, fairly mysterious aquatic invasive species. It is called brittle naiad, and it has only been found in six bodies of water in Minnesota – all in the Twin Cities area.

Kylie Cattoor is a natural resource specialist with the DNR who knows a little bit about brittle naiad. It is native to Asia and Europe. It is most often found in shallow water. It is bushy. But Cattoor said there is so much more to find out about brittle naiad because of what it is capable of doing.


RELATED: UMN Training Aquatic Invader Detectors

"A lot of aquatic invasive species we have here hinder boaters, swimmers, fishermen, fisherwomen," Cattoor said.

Brittle naiad can grow so thick that fish cannot swim through it, leaving them unable to spawn in some areas of vegetation. Boaters and swimmers can become caught up in the underwater plant near shorelines. Native plant life is also affected because brittle naiad blocks out sunlight, prohibiting original plants from growing.

Leslie Stovring, water resources coordinator with the city of Eden Prairie, said brittle naiad has already overwhelmed native plants at Purgatory Creek Wetlands. 

Along with the wetlands, DNR records show brittle naiad has also been found in the following lakes: 

  • Lake Ann in Chanhassen
  • Lac Lavon in Burnsville
  • Lotus Lake in Chanhassen
  • Round Lake in Eden Prairie
  • Staring Lake in Eden Prairie

With three bodies of water impacted within Eden Prairie, Stovring said she wants to know more about brittle naiad. In conjunction with Hennepin County, Eden Prairie will begin a $13,320 study this spring. Scientists will collect samples of brittle naiad with the goal of learning why they grow in certain locations and how the species spreads. Stovring hopes the study will help the city better predict where brittle naiad could pop up next.

DNR records indicate brittle naiad was first confirmed in Lac Lavon in 2003 – the first time it was detected in a body of water in Minnesota. While it has not spread beyond the metropolitan area, Stovring noted some of the infested lakes are connected by creeks, potentially allowing brittle naiad to spread.

RELATED: Wright County to Pilot New Aquatic Invasive Species Project

Scientists will analyze what they find in Eden Prairie waterways next winter. Cattoor said the ultimate goal goes beyond one city. It is to protects Minnesota's waterways.

"We all value these natural resources and we want to keep them around for a really long time," Cattoor said.

According to Cattoor, boaters can help stop the spread of brittle naiad by cleaning all plant parts from their boats once they are out of the water.


Zach Tecklenburg

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