, Volume 444, Issue 1-3, pp 71-84

The interaction between water movement, sediment dynamics and submersed macrophytes

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Water movement in freshwater and marine environments affects submersed macrophytes, which also mediate water movement. The result of this complex interaction also affects sediment dynamics in and around submersed macrophyte beds. This review defines known relationships and identifies areas that need additional research on the complex interactions among submersed macrophytes, water movement, and sediment dynamics. Four areas are addressed: (1) the effects of water movement on macrophytes, (2) the effects of macrophyte stands on water movement, (3) the effects of macrophyte beds on sedimentation within vegetated areas, and (4) the relationship between sediment resuspension and macrophytes. Water movement has a significant effect on macrophyte growth, typically stimulating both abundance and diversity of macrophytes at low to moderate velocities, but reducing growth at higher velocities. In turn, macrophyte beds reduce current velocities both within and adjacent to the beds, resulting in increased sedimentation and reduced turbidity. Reduced turbidity increases light availability to macrophytes, increasing their growth. Additionally, macrophytes affect the distribution, composition and particle size of sediments in both freshwater and marine environments. Therefore, establishment and persistence of macrophytes in both marine and freshwater environments provide important ecosystem services, including: (1) improving water quality; and (2) stabilizing sediments, reducing sediment resuspension, erosion and turbidity.