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Bacteria on Invasive Plant Killing Eagles
The water-loving hydrilla has brought a painful death to an untold number of American bald eagles and thousands of other water birds over the last 25 years — no one can say exactly how many. The plant isn’t killing the birds directly, but by providing a home for a new kind of cyanobacteria that produces a lethal toxin.

University of Georgia professor Susan Wilde saw patterns, to the numerous deaths. Every lake where eagles were dying of AVM was man-made, and had been heavily invaded by hydrilla. The coots were eating the hydrilla, and the eagles found easy prey in the disabled coots.

The coots could be ingesting some neurotoxin associated with the plants, then passing on the toxin when the eagles ate them.  A previously unknown kind of cyanobacteria was growing on the underside of the spreading hydrilla leaves.

Nearly 20 years of painstaking research after the neurological disease first showed up, researchers had a name for the cyanobacteria — Aetokthonos Hydrillicola, or eagle-killer — and had isolated the toxin it produces.


 
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Trash Floods Fishtrap Lake - Every year, islands of trash and debris float down the Levisa Fork river and pile up at Fishtrap Dam. The dam was built in 1968 with the primary mission of mitigating flood damage for communities downstream and to create a buffer for pollution that would otherwise travel downriver and into water treatment plants.


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