I don’t want to take on any more responsibilities than I have, but I’m thinking, a project on the community of plants and animals on alligatorweed patches might be useful to a few researchers. In the spring of 2018, I saw a bio-control agent, the alligatorweed flea beetle on alligatorweed in a lake I paddle frequently and subsequently in almost all the watery venues in our area, except where the downriver current was fast enough to discourage growth of alligatorweed. I’ve since found another of the three introduced species to slow the spread of this noxious aquatic plant, the alligatorweed stem borer moth. Much later, I also found the larvae of the southern beet webworm moth, which presence was cited as apossible bio-control agent in the reports on the bio-control agents before they were introduced. Also noted in the reports prior to introduction was the uncertainty about natural predators present where it was proposed to released the bio-control agents.
I have no biology back, no coursework in college, only the Florida Master Naturalist background which is a general introduction to the natural world.
Since 2018, these patches of alligatorweed, possibly because of their growth mass which allows them to float and allow leaves to stay at sunlight level, but massed enough to form tussock-like aggregation, without soil, have attracted other plants such as water hemlock, duckweed, water spangles and in more protected from sun areas, parrots feathers. Regarding creatures, the presence of spiders was first noticed, and increasingly other insects and spiders. Last week, I was amazed at the number of insects I found in one large mass of alligatorweed, which also included the alligatorweed flea beetle and the stem borer moth.
There probably are technical parameters for what a keystone species is, but it occurred to me, that the community of plants and animals which seem to occur frequently in these patches of alligatorweed may be of interest to people who study aquatic vegetation/ecology.
Since I (and others) who post do not often name on what plant or companion plant was present, trying to find what can be found in the community of alligatorweed would be difficult. I thought that a project might help to aggregate all of these seemingly unrelated posts.
I do not know what brambles I am going to encounter and would welcome all the unlikelihood that it would be helpful (the work is not worth the result), what work and process would be required of me, what special efforts, knowledge and skills would be required to be of scientific value and how onerous it would be to get others to take the effort to include this project when they post I lack the background, the precise eye and discipline, and therefore the judgment to know what might be useful and what might not, so if a useful project requires this, so I probably would not be a credible project organizer. Perhaps someone else with better qualifications could step up to the plate if such a project would be valuable, my role being a consistent observer who posts.
Honest (if harsh) feedback is much welcome – I am mired in my mind on this issue and welcome particularly input on “unlikely to be of help”, project parameters too elusive, project organizer qualifications, etc. — the negatives. I’d like to resolve this one way or another and setttle this issue in my mind.