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Invasive water hyacinth focus of grad student grants

June 14, 2010

Two Coastal Carolina University graduate students in the coastal marine and wetland studies master's degree program have received funding to study how an invasive plant is affecting the Waccamaw River.

Graduate student Julie Murphy and CCU marine science professor Jane Guentzel will investigate how the growth of water hyacinths may affect water quality, including the cycling of mercury.

"Water hyacinth, a floating aquatic plant with large purple flowers, is common in our local rivers, and it is often the target of weed management efforts," says Jim Luken, CCU biology professor. "However, few data are available on the impacts of this species."

Graduate student Julie Barker and Luken will study invertebrates that live on the roots of this species. As a result of this funding, the students will gain important information that can guide future management efforts. The research will provide useful data on basic chemical and ecological processes in the river.

Each student received a grant of $2,000 from the Savannah Presbytery's M.K Pentecost Ecology Fund for their research.

For more information on the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies Program, contact Luken at

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