, Volume 737, Issue 1, pp 99–110 | Cite as

Facilitation of clear-water conditions in shallow lakes by macrophytes: differences between charophyte and angiosperm dominance

  • Irmgard BlindowEmail author
  • Anders Hargeby
  • Sabine Hilt


A number of mechanisms result in a feedback between water clarity and macrophytes and, consequently, the occurrence of alternative stable states in shallow lakes. We hypothesize that bottom-up mechanisms and interactions within the benthic food web are more important in a charophyte-dominated clear-water state, while top-down mechanism and interactions in the planktonic food web prevail at angiosperm dominance. Charophytes, which dominate at lower nutrient concentrations and develop higher densities than most angiosperms, can have a higher influence on sedimentation, resuspension, and water column nutrients. During dominance of dense submerged vegetation like charophytes, zooplankton can be hampered by low food quality and quantity and by high predation pressure from juvenile fish, which in turn are favoured by the high refuge potential of this vegetation. Grazing pressure from zooplankton on phytoplankton can therefore be low in charophytes, but the main feedback in angiosperm-dominated ecosystems. Charophytes offer a higher surface than most angiosperms to periphyton, which favors benthic invertebrates. These support macrophytes by grazing periphyton and constitute a central link in a trophic cascade from fish to periphyton and macrophytes. To test these hypotheses, more experiments and field measurements comparing the effect of charophytes and angiosperms on water clarity are needed.


Alternative stable state Angiosperms Characeae Macroinvertebrates Shallow lakes Zooplankton 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Station of HiddenseeUniversity of GreifswaldKlosterGermany
  2. 2.IFM BiologyLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany

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