Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quantitative Aquatic Vegetation Management

Aquatic plants are often integral components of lake ecosystems and invasive species often disrupt the ecological balance of lakes.  Past aquatic plant assessments were qualitative and imprecise leading to poorly informed management decisions and prescriptions which have carried significant environmental and economic costs.  New acoustic and cloud computing technologies have revolutionized the aquatic industry and now highly precise estimates of aquatic plant abundance, growth patterns, and response to management can be quantitatively assessed.  New BioBase reports take this into consideration in multiple areas:

Aquatic plant management and monitoring
Aquatic plant management and habitat assessments with quantitative metrics
BioBase creates a standard report for each file that is uploaded to the system.  One section of the standard report (Biovolume by Quantity) identifies the relationship between data collected and % of data points that fall within a certain biovolume (% of the water column occupied by plants) range.  For example, in the image above 6.8% of data points collected and processed had plant biovolume above 80%, 5.19% of points had biovolume between 60-80% and 11.99% of data points showed biovoume above 60% (5.19+6.80).  If a management technique was used it would be very easy to identify, with quantitative plant management metrics, that objectives were met.  This may mean that nuisance plants above 60% biovolume were reduced by 90%.  Now we know if this is the case.

Using qualitative or subjective determinations of plant growth with only periodic surveys has led to problems of repeatability by other surveyors, lack of precise understanding of how much growth has changed over time, and an inability to rapidly detect change in lake conditions.  Now we can objectively determine if management techniques are having their desired effect.

Lake managers and plant monitoring groups can now take data to the next level with the three dimensional aspect of plant delineation using water column percent biovolume and BioBase standard reports.

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