Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jeffrey Hoch

Second Advisor

Christopher Blanar

Third Advisor

David Kerstetter


Ecology, Fish Communities, Invasive Plants, Florida, Pennywort, Invertebrate, Minnow Traps, Electrofishing, USDA, Community Ecology, Lake, Population Ecology, Fish Communities, Floating Macrophyte


The incursion of water hyacinth, Pontederia crassipes in Lake Okeechobee has resulted in management systems to be implemented to reduce the coverage of the invasive macrophyte. Its residence in the Lake Okeechobee ecosystem and the effects it has on organisms in the lake, whether it be positive or harmful is unknown. This study attempted to assess the potential effects that water hyacinth has on aquatic biota in Lake Okeechobee. Biotic data were collected on open water, water hyacinth covered, and native vegetation covered habitats via hook-and-line fishing, electrofishing, baited minnow traps, and the sampling of plant roots over a thirteen-month span. A total of 10,795 freshwater fish, representing 24 species, and 13,419 invertebrates, representing 38 distinct groups were recorded.

9,258 individuals were caught using the baited-minnow traps, with a total of 17 species identified. 2,903 individuals were sampled using a Smith Root LR-20B electrofisher, with 26 species recorded. Hook-and-line angling only recorded 6 individuals total, each being a different species. Invertebrate sampling caught 36 different taxa for a total of 12,047 individuals. All sampling methods resulted in no significant differences in fish/invertebrate communities when comparing water hyacinth infested areas with native/open water treatment groups. Even though water hyacinth has negative impacts on shipping channels, recreational angling, human vector contact, and aesthetics, we did not detect any specific negative impact in aquatic biota communities in Lake Okeechobee.


Lake Okeechobee, Pontederia crassipes, populations, invasive, communities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.