Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 203–217 | Cite as

Effects of salinity and light on biomass and growth of Vallisneria americana from Lower St. Johns River, FL, USA

  • Ronald G. Boustany
  • Thomas C. Michot
  • Rebecca F. Moss
Original Paper


A mesocosm study was conducted to determine the effects of variable salinity and light on Vallisneria americana Michx. (wild celery) and associated algal community components in the lower St. Johns River, Florida. Fifteen centimeter diameter intact plant plugs were collected from the LSJR in March 2001 and transported to mesocosm facilities in Lafayette, Louisiana. A factorial experimental design was used consisting of three salinity levels (1, 8, and 18 ppt), three light levels (0, 50, and 90% shading), and three replicate mesocosms of each for a total of 27 mesocosms. The experiment consisted of a 4-week acclimation period followed by a 5-month treatment period. V. americana responded negatively to increased salinity. Although V. americana survived 8 ppt salinity, growth was limited. At 18 ppt, almost all V. americana aboveground biomass had perished within 10 weeks, but when salinity was lowered back to 1 ppt, approximately 20% of the aboveground biomass recovered within the following 10 weeks. At midtreatment harvest, light did not affect V. americana biomass directly (P = 0.8240), but by final harvest (20 weeks) light affected belowground biomass (P < 0.0014). Both salinity and light affected algal growth. Macroalgae dominated 1 ppt salinity treatments in ambient light, but phytoplankton dominated 8 and 18 ppt salinity treatments in ambient light. Algal communities were greatly inhibited by 90% shading. While salinity directly impacted V. americana growth and survival, light effects were less direct and involved algal community associations.


Vallisneria americana Michx. Submerged aquatic vegetation Salinity Light 



We thank the Lower St. Johns River Water Management District for funding this project. We acknowledge Alicia McKinney, David Girardin, Emily Stecker, Fred Basnett, Jim Messer, Jennifer Sagan, and Michele Lockwood for their assistance in the field. We would also like to recognize Dean Campbell, Michelle Jeansonne, and Dean Dubberfohl for their roles in coordinating our efforts with the district and serving as our contacts for this project. As always, we would like to thank John Burns for his original involvement with this project. At NWRC we thank Laura Lawton, Scott Kemmerer, Jeremy Reiser, and Tricia Lavin of Johnson Controls World Services (JCWS) and Jonathan LeBlanc for helping with the harvesting and processing of samples. We especially thank Darren Johnson of JCWS for statistical consultation and review and Brian Davis (DU), Beth Vairin (USGS), Chris Swarzinski (USGS) and Joy Merino (NOAA) for editorial comments to the manuscript. Finally, we thank the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ira Nelson Horticulture Center for the use of greenhouse facilities and especially thank Jackie Carlisi and Billy Welsh for coordinating our use of these facilities. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald G. Boustany
    • 1
    • 3
  • Thomas C. Michot
    • 1
  • Rebecca F. Moss
    • 2
  1. 1.U. S. Geological SurveyNational Wetlands Research CenterLafayetteUSA
  2. 2.IAP World ServicesNational Wetlands Research CenterLafayetteUSA
  3. 3.USDA/Natural Resources Conservation ServiceLafayetteUSA

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