Effects of sediment type and water level on biomass production of wetland plant species

J.P.M. Lenssen, F.B.J. Menting, W.H. Van der Putten, C.W.P.M. Blom

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    We investigated how water level and different sediment types affect the growth of wetland plant species. Twelve different species were grown in drained and waterlogged sediments, which represented types normally encountered in wetlands: a mineral sediment from exposed sites, a sediment from a sheltered site rich in labile organic matter and an organic sediment with decomposing litter of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Steudel. The tested species included both subordinate and dominant species inhabiting flooded or dry parts of the water-depth gradient. Due to nutrient limitation, biomass production of most species was lowest in the mineral sediment. In this substrate waterlogging only affected Cirsium arvense and Eupatorium cannabinum which were reduced to 30% and 16% of the production in the drained sediment. Most species performed best in the sediment with labile organic matter, even when waterlogged. Waterlogging in the reed litter sediment, when compared to the drained reed litter, decreased growth of six species: Iris pseudacorus by 40%, Myosotis scorpioides by 60%, Rorippa amphibia by 25%, Sium latifolium by 50%, Eupatorium cannabinum by 80%, and Epilobium hirsutum by 70%. The differences in plant performance between both organic sediments may be due to the presence of refractory organic matter. The specific responses in the reed litter sediment contrasted with the similar response to both other sediments. These results show that accumulation of litter, instead of accumulation of organic matter in,general, will be an important factor in determining species composition of littoral zones. They also indicate that, although litter does not favor subordinates above clonal dominants, litter accumulation may enhance species diversity on a large scale. [KEYWORDS: littoral vegetation; litter; organic matter; species diversity; zonation Emergent vegetation; growth; macrophytes; lake; decomposition; limitation; aeration; detritus; patterns; zonation]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)151-165
    JournalAquatic Botany
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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