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Water Quality: Management, Sanitation and Investigation

Limnological Fundamentals

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants have true roots, stems, and leaves. They, too, are a vital part of the biological community of a lake. Unfortunately, like algae, they can overpopulate and interfere with lake uses.

Aquatic plants can be grouped into four categories:

Through photosynthesis, aquatic plants convert inorganic material to organic matter and oxygenate the water. They provide food and cover for aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails, and fish. Aquatic plants are also a food source for many animals. In addition, waterfowl, muskrats, and other species use aquatic plants for homes and nests.

Aquatic plants are effective in breaking the force of waves and thus reduce shoreline erosion. Emergents serve to trap sediments, silt, and organic matter flowing off the watershed. Nutrients are also captured and utilized by aquatic plants, thus preventing them from reaching algae in the open portion of a lake.

Factors that Affect Aquatic Plant Growth

There are many factors that affect aquatic plant growth including:

The Overgrowth of Aquatic Plants

Excessive growth of aquatic plants is unsightly and can severely limit recreation. Submergents and rooted floating-leaf plants hinder swimmers, tangle fishing lines, and wrap around boat propellers. Fragments of these plants can break off and wash up on beaches and clog water intakes.

For many species, fragmentation is also a form of reproduction. An overgrowth problem can quickly spread throughout a lake if boat propellers, harvesting operations, or other mechanical actions fragment the plants, allowing them to drift and settle in new areas of the lake.

Free-floating plants can collect in great numbers in bays and coves due to prevailing winds. Emergent plants can also be troublesome if they ruin lake views and make access to open water difficult. In addition, they create areas of quiet water where mosquitoes can reproduce.

Monitoring programs designed to characterize the aquatic plant condition usually:

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