Lake snow algae research ‘priority’

[New Zealand] Identifying the source of algae that cause lake snow in Lake Wanaka could prove crucial to gaining more funds to research and manage the problem.

That view was suggested at a recent meeting of the Otago Regional Council’s technical committee.

A report by council engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer tabled at the meeting highlighted the importance of researching the lake snow-producing algae diatom, Lindavia intermedia.

The overall quality of the lake’s water is excellent, but Wanaka residents have again had to clear clogged filters, and defoul fishing lines this summer.

Representatives of many institutions, including Landcare Research, the University of Otago and two other regional councils, attended a workshop on lake snow hosted by the ORC last December.

After the workshop, research priority has been given to a genetic study being undertaken by Phil Novis, of Landcare Research, to trace the source of the diatom, and to clarify if it is an invasive species recently arrived from North America.

Asked if this study could help with research funding, given that some government agencies acted against invasive species, Dr Palmer said that was “why ORC decided to initiate that testing as a priority”.

The testing outcome was expected by June, he said.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the genetic testing would help clarify “where the responsibility sits” for lake snow issues.

Lake Wanaka and other southern lakes were valued very highly by the community, he said.

Otago University zoology research fellow and freshwater scientist Marc Schallenberg said the workshop and the ORC’s increased focus on lake snow and related genetic research were “extremely positive developments”.

Lake Wanaka and the other Otago lakes were “really important” for locals, other New Zealanders and tourists.

The North American Great Lakes had already been damaged by invasive species, and Wanaka’s lake snow issues showed the need to be “really careful” to protect the southern lakes in a proactive way.

 

View original article at: Lake snow algae research ‘priority’

 

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