The Intriguing Invasive Fanwort Created By: Stella Sherman

My name is Stella Sherman. This is a project I have been working about an invasive species known as the fanwort. In this project, I will show a large amount of information about this invasive aquatic plant. These following questions will be answered in this project. What is the classification? What is the the structure and the behavioral characteristics of the fanwort? What is the natural habitat and the ecosystems the fanwort invades? How does the fanwort migrates to new areas? What are the negative and positive imacts of the fanwort? And what is being done to control the fanwort? All these questions will be answered so that you can learn more about the fanwort. Let's roll right into it!

The Classification

The fanwort is classified in the plant kingdom, one of the five kingdoms including the protista kingdom, the monera kingdom, the fungi kingdom, and the animal kingdom. The classification is what group the fanwort is classified in and also is classifies based off its characteristics. In this case, the fanwort is classified in the the plant kingdom. The fanwort has another classification which is a morphological classification. The mass amount of possible classifications of aquatic plants are established upon morphology. The fanwort is classified as a Nymphaeid (which are types of plants that has roots on the bottom of water bodies and has leaves floating on the surface of the water). The scientific name for the fanwort is known as the cabomba, the name the fanwort is most referred to. The genus that the fanwort is apart of cabombaceae family which consists of two genera of aquatic species, one of those species being the fanwort/cabomba. The genus is the family/subfamily of the major subdivision in the classification of organisms. The fanwort's class is in fact the magnoliopsida. The magnoliopsida is an accurate botanical name for a class of flowering plants. The fanwort is a popular aquarium plant which is one of the reasons why it is and invasive species. We'll get to that later, though.

Structural and Behavioral Characteristics of the Fanwort

The fanwort does not have not a complicated design for its structural picture and not a complicated behavior. There are a few main points that the fanwort's structural picture consist of. To start with, there are two floating diamond-shaped leafs that float above the water. In addition, the fanwort has a few flowers floating out of the water that have a white and/or yellow color and grow on thin stalks. More over, the fanwort has fan shaped leaves that are certainly frilly. The fanwort received its name due to it's fan shaped leaves. The fanwort has slender roots that grow on the bottom of water bodies. The mature size is approximately thirty centimeters to eighty centimeters in length but the fanwort can grow up to ten meters in length! The fanwort can be very sensitive to drying out and requires perpetual shallow water (usually three meters or less). The plant produces seeds but that seems that is the only way the fanwort spreads. Its leaves block the sunlight thus, stopping other vegetation at the bottom of the water bodies from growing.

The Natural Habitat...

And Ecosystems...

The Fanwort Invades

The fanwort grows in a place where it has some kind of water source and has at least three meters in depth. Growing in many ponds, lakes, reservoirs, sloughs, and/or canals. Reservoirs are artificial places where water can be collected or stored for use. For example, man-made ponds in some parks. Sloughs are basically swamps with a soft or muddy ground. A canal is an artificial waterway that is used for transportation. Those are the ecosystems that the fanwort is native to and invades but these are the countries that the fanwort is native to and invades. The fanwort's native range is Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Northeast Argentina, and Southern and Eastern of United States of America. The non-indigenous occurrences are Peru, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Southeast of United States of America, parts of Australia, and Canada.

How the Fanwort Migrates to New Areas

There are a couple of ways that the fanwort can migrate to new places that the plant is non-native to. One of the ways is that people release the fanwort into the wild. That is how the fanwort became a non-indigenous species to other areas in the first place. The fanwort is well known for its use for aquariums therefore, being recognized as an aquatic plant. The meaning for the fanwort's introduction is aquarium release or escape. The fanwort spread to among many other places because of other aquariums and people that possessed a fanwort (in a place where the fanwort was a native plant to), has escaped or they also have released the plant as well. Even though it is illegal to release a fanwort, there are some people that still might be doing it. Another way the fanwort migrates, is when it produces its seeds. As I explained before, the fanwort's natural ecosystem is anything that contains a water source with a depth of tree meters. If that source of water is big enough (such as a lake), the fanwort's seeds that it produces get washed up to new areas and starts to grow there. The fanwort produces rapidly and a lot. Leading up to a colossal amount of fanworts in lakes, ponds, canals, sloughs, and reservoirs.

Invasive Impacts : Negative and Positive

There are many acts that the fanwort does to the ecosystem that is both negative and positive. We are going to start with the negative acts. Starting, the fanwort competes for land. There are many Nymphaeids and other plants that that live and grow in the same place as the fanwort does. A fanwort is an example of a Nymphaeids, the plant's roots are at the bottom of the water body and has leaves that float on the surface of the water. The fanwort does not let other plants into its way and will not let other plants grow near it. Another negative impact, is that the fanwort blocks sunlight from other vegetation. There are some aquatic plants that just grow and live on the bottom of water bodies for example, Amphiphytes, Isoetids, and Elodeids. The fanwort blocks the sunlight so it cannot travel to the Amphiphytes, Isoetids, and Elodeids. It can also block sunlight from other plants : Helophytes and other Nymphaeids that are just starting to grow. Those plants start growing at the bottom of water bodies so the fanwort could be blocking sunlight from those other plants that have just started growing the bottom of the water. The next negative impact, is that the fanwort crowds the vegetation. This, in a way, ties in to competing for land. If the fanwort is fighting for the land, it gets crowded from all the other vegetation that is trying to grow there. There is also not enough room and space for the other aquatic plants that are meant to be growing there. There is a plant species known as the Pleuston, that floats freely on the surface of the water. The fanwort is crowding this vegetation, as well as many others. A different negative impact, is the fanwort has rapid growth. This means the fanwort grows very quickly, and could grow up to ten meters in length and crowd a lot vegatation! The final negative impact, is the fanwort quickly reproduces. Most invasive species are known to reproduce a lot. This takes all the negative impacts we have listed before, and have made the even worse. That means there are more fanworts to preform these negative impacts. There are not vary many positive impacts of the fanwort besides helping businesses and being an appealing aquarium plant. The fanwort is a very popular aquarium plant and businesses can make an exceptional amount of money to sell it. If you have a fish tank of your own, you can use the fanwort in your tank.

Efforts to Control the Fanwort

There are many methods people are using to control the fanwort but, the methods are broken down into three parts: Biological control, physical control and last but not least, chemical control. Let's start with biological control. Biological control is the act of a biotic organism that can control the fanwort's population. A species of fish known as the grass carp, will eat the fanwort but it is not their preferred meal. Though in some states, diploid grass carps are illegal for usage because they can reproduce. We don't want another invasive species to deal with! The use of triploid grass carps are legal in in some states such as, New York and Pennsylvania (with correct permits) because this type of grass carp does not reproduce. Up next, we have physical control. Physical is us humans using methods to control the fanwort population. One way, is to remove the fanworts from the water bodies. This method is probably the most effective. Removing the plants will take a great amount of time but people use a venturi dredge to be more efficient. It acts as a vacuum cleaner and sucks up a large amount of fanwort. Another way to control the fanwort, is to make the water levels drop. This helps because the fanwort is very sensitive and will dry out. Cleaning boats, trailers and other equipment can reduce the spread of fanwort. Ending it off with the final method, chemical control. Chemical control is scientists using chemicals to control the fanwort population. Herbicides (types of chemicals to kill plants) have been effective when controlling the fanwort. Scientist have testes diquat and flumioxazin (separately), which is a substance used to kill aquatic plants. There have been tests with these substances, and have a result of the herbicides having greater than a fifty percent reduction in fanwort photosynthesis. The herbicides have never been tested in a natural ecosystem.

What Will You Do?

Our human civilization barely recognizes that there are invasive species roaming all around the world. We don't take the time out of our days to watch the news about invasive species or research the topic. Us as humans just don't care. But you, you read my entire project. Surely enough you care about this topic enough to read through my entire presentation. You are probably wondering, "Well what can I do to help?". Well I just gave you a bunch of reasons how to help. And if you are not old enough to do any of that stuff, try to get involved. Search for any organizations to join. Who knows you might even start your own organization. What will you do to help? What will you do to stop invasive species from destroying natural habitats? What will you do to stop invasive species from wiping out animal and plant populations? What will you do?


Created with images by Alex Popovkin, Bahia, Brazil - "Cabomba aquatica Aubl." • andrey_zharkikh - "2009.07.08_18.46.22_CIMG1716" • Alex Popovkin, Bahia, Brazil - "Cabomba aquatica Aubl." • Alex Popovkin, Bahia, Brazil - "Cabomba aquatica Aubl." • andrey_zharkikh - "2009.07.08_18.58.12_CIMG1743" • andrey_zharkikh - "2009.07.08_18.59.07_CIMG1747"

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