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Local effort underway to manage recently discovered invasive algae in southeast Wisconsin

Contact(s): Heidi Bunk, DNR lakes biologist, 262-574-2130,; Tim Campbell, communications specialist, 608-267-3531,

November 25, 2014 at 11:04:38 am

WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Routine aquatic plant monitoring by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources identified starry stonewort, an invasive algae, in Little Muskego Lake, Waukesha County, in late September.

This is the first time this species, which is prohibited under Wisconsin's invasive species rule (NR 40, Wis. Admin. Code), has been discovered in Wisconsin. Starry stonewort, or Nitellopsis obtusa, is native to Europe and was first detected in the Great Lakes in 1983. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2006, where it has been known to form dense mats that outcompete native plants and eliminate juvenile fish habitat.

Heidi Bunk, a DNR lakes biologist based in Waukesha, is leading the local response effort for the discovery. Bunk is working with the Little Muskego Lake Management District, city of Muskego, Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and other partners to develop a response plan.

"With the help of our local partners, we will be able to implement multiple containment and control strategies to decrease the spread of starry stonewort," Bunk said.

Local stakeholders are hopeful that these efforts will limit any changes they see in Little Muskego Lake.

"With the help of the DNR, we were able to detect this new invasive species in low densities in Little Muskego Lake," said Larry Lefebvre of the Little Muskego Lake Management District. "We are hopeful that our management actions will limit any impacts as a result of this invasion."

The collaborative response team believes that small changes in lake use, such as dedicating a plant harvester to the invaded location, will keep the starry stonewort in one small section of the lake. The response team has also planned education and monitoring efforts to keep the algae from spreading to neighboring lakes.

Amanda Perdzock, the DNR aquatic invasive species rapid response coordinator, said the onset of colder weather provides the local response team with some advantages.

"Aquatic plant growth decreases in the winter, so the response team has the coming months to develop a comprehensive management strategy. We are confident that our rapid response framework and lessons learned from other rapid response efforts will help effectively manage this new invasion."

To learn more about starry stonewort, search the DNR website,, for "regulated invasive algae."

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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