LAKE WAWASEE — This summer, the Center for Lakes & Streams, at Grace College, began a new project to monitor starry stonewort on Lake Wawasee. Starry stonewort is an invasive algae which can pose a threat to lakes as it can form dense, thick mats which inhibit boat traffic and limit the growth of native plants.
This plant is a fast-growing green algae and tends to compete with native plants for territory. Likewise, starry stonewort tend to thrive in distressed and ever-changing habitats, which are not ideal for other native plant growth. Perhaps the largest threat presented by the presence of starry stonewort is the invasive plant’s impact on native fish habitats. This plant is notorious for both reducing fish nesting areas and density, and for threatening the occurrence of spawning altogether. The ever-increasing presence of starry stonewort could have long-term implications for fisheries in Indiana.
In 2015, an invasion of starry stonewort covered approximately 43.8 acres on Lake Tippecanoe and densely covered 230.69 acres of Lake Wawasee.
The Center for Lakes & Streams gained support from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Wawasee Property Owners Association to conduct a study on effective starry stonewort control in local lakes. Since May, the center has been conducting various treatment trials in Lake Wawasee; further studies might include specific trials in Lake Tippecanoe next summer. The study’s purpose is to assist lake associations by providing the most effective strategies for reducing starry stonewort growth in the future.