Ecology of Aquatic Plant Species: Effects of Sediment Composition,
ARMY ENGINEER WATERWAYS EXPERIMENT STATION VICKSBURG MS
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Since nearly the turn of this centruy it has been recognized that the nature of bottom sediments affects the growth of rooted submersed aquatic vegetation Pearsall 1920 Misra 1938 Walker 1972 Segal 1982. Different aquatic plant species appear to vary in the magnitude of their response to sediment conditions. In nature, such differences in responsiveness to sediment conditions may influence the species composition of submersed aquatic plant communities. There is an apparent association during lake aging between increasing sediment organic matter and decline of submersed aquatic vegetation Walker 1972 Wetzel 1979 Carpenter 1981. Moreover, the spatial distribution of individual plant species seems to vary with sediment organic content Macan 1977. Additions of vegetative organic matter to sediment can substantially reduce the growth of submersed aquatic plants. Since little is known, however, about organic loading processes in natural aquatic systems, the applicability to nature of these results obtained on artificially loaded sediments has been open to question. For this reason, the growth of two invasive aquatic plant species, H. verticillata and M. spicatum, is critically examined here in relation to the physical and chemical composition of 40 natural sediments from 17 geographically widespread North American lakes.