Chautauqua Lake Possesses a Diverse Community of Aquatic Plants
Lakewood, NY — The CLA announces a new way to identify and learn about the Chautauqua Lake’s aquatic plants. Posted on the association’s website and available for download, the field guide was prepared by Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists of Ithaca, New York. It is titled A Field Guide of Native Aquatic Macrophyte Species Found in Chautauqua Lake along with Current and Potential Non-Natives Species. Racine-Johnson has been independently studying Chautauqua Lake’s diverse plant community continually since 2002 under the sponsorship of the CLA.
Although the common belief is that only a couple of nuisance species comprise Chautauqua Lake’s plant community, the reality is that the lake possesses a diverse community of aquatic plants that serve to benefit the lake’s fishery, water clarity and to repel excessive cyanobacteria growth/HABs. Racine-Johnson documented the presence of thirty-three plant species in the lake in 2021. Fifty-two species have been known to inhabit the lake at various times since 1937 when the first inventory occurred.
The field guide provides information about the most common thirty-three native species and ten non-native species. Although most of the non-native species are not present in the lake, they are species that could arrive for which observers need to be vigilant. The CLA’s boat launch-based Watercraft Steward Program exists to guard against the arrival of new non-native invasive species that could cause a nuisance to the native plant community and to lake recreational use.
Chautauqua Lake Association Executive Director Douglas Conroe states, “We are excited to be able to provide this important field guide to the community. It not only provides excellent photos of the various plants, it also provides detailed narratives to help in identifying the plants along with information about each plant’s habitat and value to the lake ecosystem. This field guide will serve to correct the misinformation that abounds throughout the community about the lake’s plants and will be a useful tool for those seeking to learn more about Chautauqua Lake’s aquatic plant community.”
The researchers at Racine-Johnson comment that, “We encourage stakeholders to associate names with the plants they encounter while on the lake. Our goal is to promote the public understanding that aquatic macrophytes are essential to healthy shallow freshwater ecosystems and generally are not the perceived nuisance “weeds” often described by stakeholders.”