Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 34, pp 34027–34045 | Cite as

Biomechanical response of a submerged, rosette-forming macrophyte to wave action in a eutrophic lake on the Yungui Plateau, China

  • Guorong Zhu
  • Guilan Di
  • Meng Zhang
  • Te Cao
  • Leyi Ni
  • Rongting Fang
  • Gongliang Yu
Research Article


Few studies have focused on the biomechanical responses of submerged, rosette-forming macrophytes to wave action, water depth, or their co-occurrence in naturally eutrophic systems. The plant architecture, root anchorage strength-related traits, leaf morphology, and biomechanics of Vallisneria natans inhabiting a range of water depths were examined along three transects (T1, T2, and T3) in a eutrophic lake, Lake Erhai, in Yunnan Province, China. These transects were exposed to weak wave action and hyper-eutrophication (T1), moderate wave action and eutrophication (T2), or strong wave action and eutrophication (T3). The results showed that V. natans was mainly distributed at intermediate depths, with the widest colonization depth in T1. The values of plant architecture, root anchorage strength-related traits, leaf morphology, and biomechanics were generally highest in T3 and smallest in T2. Along the depth gradient, these values were generally highest at 3.5, 2.5, and 2.5 m for the plants growing in T1, T2, and T3, respectively. These findings suggest that V. natans adopts a “tolerance” strategy to cope with the effects of strong wave action in eutrophic habitats and an “avoidance” strategy when exposed to moderate wave action in eutrophic areas. Since the absence of an avoidance strategy increases the resistance to low-light stress at the expense of increased drag forces, there is a limit to the wave action that V. natans can withstand. This study indicates that biomechanics could be important when determining the distribution pattern of V. natans in Lake Erhai.


Wave action Water depth Morphology Biomechanical properties Eutrophic lake Vallisneria natans 



We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful remarks on the manuscript. We thank Mr. H Fu, W Zhang, X Tang, CH Cui, and several others for their help with the field sampling and in the laboratory. We also thank Alison Beamish of the University of British Columbia, as well as Alexander Ebbing and Jaco de Smit of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, for the assistance with the English language and grammar and general presentation of the manuscript.

Funding information

This work was co-supported by the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2012ZX07105-004), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31400402), a Brainstorm Project on Social Development by the Department of Science and Technology of Henan Province (142102310476), and the China Scholarship Council and Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (qd13049).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Donghu Experimental Station of Lake Ecosystem, State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and BiotechnologyInstitute of Hydrobiology, The Chinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of FisheriesHenan Normal UniversityXinxiangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Jiangxi Academy of Environmental SciencesNanchangPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Algal BiologyInstitute of Hydrobiology, The Chinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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