Wave exposure related growth of epiphyton: implications for the distribution of submerged macrophytes in eutrophic lakes
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The distribution of submerged macrophytes in eutrophic lakes has been found to be skewed towards sites with intermediate exposure to waves. Low submerged macrophyte biomass at exposed sites has been explained by, for instance, physical damage from waves. The aim of this study was to investigate if lower biomass at sheltered sites compared to sites with intermediate exposure to waves can be caused by competition from epiphyton.
Investigations were performed in eutrophic lakes in southern Sweden. Samples of submerged macrophytes and epiphytic algae on the macrophytes were taken along a wave exposure gradient. The amount of epiphyton (AFDW) per macrophyte biomass decreased with increased exposure. Biomass of submerged macrophytes, on the other hand, increased with increased exposure until a relatively abrupt disappearance of submerged vegetation occurred at high exposures. Production of epiphytic algae was monitored on artificial substrates from June to September at a sheltered and an exposed site in three lakes. It was higher at sheltered sites compared with exposed sites.
We suggest that epiphytic algae may be an important factor in limiting the distribution of submerged macrophytes at sheltered sites in eutrophic lakes.
Key wordsPotamogeton pectinatus epiphyton submerged macrophytes production distribution eutrophic lakes
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