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Present distribution of the genus Elodea in the Alsatian Upper Rhine floodplain (France) with a special focus on the expansion of Elodea nuttallii St. John during recent decades

  • Sabine Greulich
  • Michèle Trémolières
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 190)

Abstract

Three species of Elodea (Elodea canadensis Michaux, E. nuttallii St John and E. ernstiae St John) have colonized Europe from the American continent. All three arrived in the Alsatian Rhine floodplain (northeastern France) soon after their arrival in Europe, i.e. in the mid-19th century for E. canadensis, and in the mid-20th century for E. nuttallii and E. ernstiae. The paper investigates the present distribution of Elodea spp. in the floodplain by quantifying the species’ respective occurrences and by describing their habitats. The study further focuses on E. nuttallii which is presently colonizing other parts of Europe. It analyses whether it has continued to expand in the Alsatian Rhine floodplain during recent decades, and it checks whether changes in the abundance of E. nuttallii have had an impact on species richness of water plant communities. E. nuttallii has been found to be at present one of the most dominant and most frequent aquatic plant species in the study sector, while E. canadensis and E. ernstiae are less abundant. The species’ distributions differ with regard to water chemistry and water temperature: E. canadensis occurs in oligomesotrophic, rather stenothermic habitats, whereas E. nuttallii and E. ernstiae can be encountered in mesoto eutrophic sites with little or no arrival of stenothermic ground water. By comparing successive vegetation relevés from the same sites the study revealed further that the distribution of E. nuttallii has been stable in recent decades, despite local fluctuations in abundance. No relationship could be established between those fluctuations and changes in species richness or type of local plant communities. The sum of the results suggests that the expansion of E. nuttallii in the Alsatian Rhine floodplain had been completed prior to the study period. The species’ present distribution in the study sector as well as its position in local plant communities might therefore be considered a model for what can be expected to happen in areas where E. nuttallii has only recently arrived.

Key words

Elodea canadensis Elodea nuttallii Elodea ernstiae invasive species habitat parameters impacts on species richness 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Greulich
    • 1
  • Michèle Trémolières
    • 2
  1. 1.Université François Rabelais, UMR CNRS 6173 CITERES-Ville, Sociétés, TerritoiresTours cedex 3France
  2. 2.Centre d’Ecologie Végétale et d’HydrologieUMR MA 101 Université Louis Pasteur/ENGEES, Institut de BotaniqueStrasbourgFrance

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