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I think your "scarce dollars" argument is probably on the mark. Lotus does provide some Wood Duck habitat in late summer and early fall, and unless the lotus covers entire regions of a refuge, control is probably too expensive for the return.

However, at Mingo some years ago, lotus came to dominate the shallow Monopoly Lake. Formerly, the part of the lake that became covered by lotus produced lots of seed-bearing plants that provided food for many different birds in winter. The refuge had to stabilize water levels on Monopoly Lake for several years to set back the lotus, and later restore the productive annual and short-lived perennial plants that were more valuable bird habitat. (Among these are smartweed, sprangletop, and wild millet.)

True, open water is not too valuable for many birds, but there are a number of species that feed on submerged aquatic plants in relatively open water at moderate water depths (gadwall, wigeon, coots are all examples). Lotus out-competes even these plants. In general, there are other, more valuable plants (from a wildlife standpoint) that can grow at the water depths where lotus grows best. It is partly the preference of the lake owner. Some folks just like the appearance of lotus.

Back to birds!

----Bill Eddleman, Cape Girardeau

At 05:24 PM 10/11/2002 -0500, you wrote:

Query No. 1: If American lotus is a pest and can be controlled, why do Squaw Creek and Swan Lake have so much of it?

(Guess Number 1: They see their primary mission as refuges for waterfowl after frost has suppressed American Lotus for the winter and do not want to expend scarce dollars controlling American Lotus in the summer.

Guess Number 2: American Lotus, though a "pest" for fishing ponds, is not considered a "pest" at Swan Lake and Squaw Creeek because it not detrimental to species, like Wood Ducks, that they are happy to propagate in summer).

Query No. 2: Should birders be for it or against it at places like Squaw Creek and Swan Lake?

(Bill Eddleman describes it as " pretty much lousy habitat for birds, including the marsh species." But what would take its place if it were controlled? I doubt that open water would be better for breeding birds. Having seen what the cattails did to Cheyenne Bottoms, I'm not for them either!).

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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