Spring-fed ponds are common in the Ozarks.
But biologists don’t know much about their plant communities.
Dr. La Toya Kissoon-Charles, assistant professor of biology, and biology graduate student Hannah Whaley lead research on the ponds’ plant communities in the local region.
About their research
Kissoon-Charles and Whaley study aquatic plants in spring-fed ponds.
Specifically, they examine the environmental factors that affect their growth.
“The factors of temperature, nutrients and surrounding land use interest us,” Kissoon-Charles said.
The first ripple
Kissoon-Charles and Whaley began their research after learning of an invasive plant found in a local spring-fed pond.
The invasive (or non-native) plant threatened the survival of the pond’s aquatic plants.
These plants play a vital role in pond ecosystems.
“Aquatic plants provide habitat and food for many organisms,” Kissoon-Charles said. “They also reduce erosion and filter pollutants.”
Since locating the initial invasive plant, Kissoon-Charles and Whaley have continued to monitor its growth and that of other aquatic plants in the pond.
The splashes to come
By expanding their research efforts, Kissoon-Charles and Whaley will soon become bigger fish in the biology community.
They are now looking at more spring-fed ponds in the region to learn more about the ponds’ plant communities.
“The data we collect will bring attention to the diversity of aquatic plants in the Ozarks region,” Kissoon-Charles said. “Our work will also contribute to future research and management of spring-fed ponds.”