Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Louisiana
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Louisiana Project

Adaptive Hydrological Management of Catahoula Lake

August 2009 - December 2014


Participating Agencies

  • LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources Gilbert Fellowship

Catahoula Lake is a RAMSAR wetland of international importance in central Louisiana because of its importance to wintering waterfowl and migratory shorebirds. The lake is typically flooded from December to July each year; the summer drawdown exposes mudflats which benefit migratory shorebirds and stimulates production of chufa, sprangletop, and other important foods for wintering waterfowl. There has been increasing concern about the impacts of the expansion of water elm, a native, but invasive shrub, on wintering waterfowl habitat. Currently, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is spending over $200,000 per year to control water elm. This study is designed to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms facilitating water elm expansion and to help develop more effective control practices. Specifically, our objectives are to: 1. Evaluate the combined effects of hydrological processes and the LDWF woody control program (including herbicides, fire, or grazing) on woody and herbaceous plant communities; 2. Reconstruct historical changes in plant communities in Catahoula Lake, focusing on timing and rates of expansion of water-elm; 3. Reconstruct and model the historical hydrologic regime of Catahoula Lake, with emphasis on understanding links between hydrologic processes and vegetation communities; and 4. Develop a strategy for management of the water control structure on the Catahoula Diversion Channel to better mimic the natural hydrologic regime. Dr. Sammy King is a co-principal investigator with Dr. Richard Keim of the LSU AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources. Several graduate students are involved on this project including Sanjeev Joshi.