, Volume 148, Issue 3, pp 455–463 | Cite as

An invasive macrophyte alters sediment chemistry due to suppression of a native isoetid

  • Rebecca A. Urban
  • John E. TitusEmail author
  • Wei-Xing Zhu
Ecosystem Ecology


The submersed macrophyte Utricularia inflata (inflated bladderwort) is a recent invader of Adirondack Mountain lakes (NY, USA). A 15-week greenhouse experiment and a 7-week field experiment were conducted to test the hypothesis that this rootless species fundamentally changes sediment chemistry through its suppression of the native short-statured species, Eriocaulon aquaticum. E. aquaticum has an extensive root system that releases oxygen into the sediment. In greenhouse conditions, E. aquaticum raised the porewater redox potential of otherwise bare sediment from 25 to 324 mV, lowered the sediment porewater pH from 5.7 to 4.6, and depleted the dissolved inorganic carbon and ammonium concentrations in the sediment porewater by 68.4 and 96.0%, respectively (P<0.001 for all four parameters). A cover of U. inflata over E. aquaticum, however, greatly reduced the latter’s effect on redox potential (P<0.001), dissolved solutes (P<0.001), and pH (P<0.05). E. aquaticum biomass increased during the greenhouse experiment in the absence of U. inflata, but decreased in its presence (P<0.001). Redox and growth rate results from the field experiment paralleled those from the greenhouse experiment. Our data suggest that U. inflata may change nutrient cycling in Adirondack lake ecosystems by reducing the growth of native isoetid macrophytes, such as E. aquaticum, and consequently altering key features of sediment chemistry.


Eriocaulon aquaticum Nutrients Redox potential Submersed macrophytes Utricularia inflata 



We thank Nathan Munley, Sharon Madden, Craig Barrett, Kevin Horn, Dylan Horvath, and Timothy Doty for their assistance, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. This research was supported by the New York State Biodiversity Research Institute, the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society, and grant DEB 9873734 from the National Science Foundation. The experiments reported herein comply with current US law.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Urban
    • 1
  • John E. Titus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wei-Xing Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBinghamton UniversityBinghamtonUSA

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