Data_Sheet_1_Turbidity, Waterfowl Herbivory, and Propagule Banks Shape Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in Ponds.docx (1.02 MB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Turbidity, Waterfowl Herbivory, and Propagule Banks Shape Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in Ponds.docx

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posted on 16.10.2018, 04:28 by Stijn Van Onsem, Ludwig Triest

The aquatic vegetation in nutrient-rich shallow lakes and ponds is structured by the interplay of multiple biotic and abiotic drivers. We tested the contribution of the macrophyte propagule bank and the delayed as well as direct impact of waterbirds on submerged aquatic vegetation in a peri-urban pond system. To clarify the functional hierarchy of predictor variables, effects of herbivorous waterfowl and propagule bank potential were ranked relative to environmental, phytoplankton, and zooplankton indicators. Two aspects of the aquatic vegetation – community composition and total pond-scale cover – were discriminated. Within vegetation communities, phytoplankton biovolume and waterfowl herbivory during summer were linked to low macrophyte abundance, whereas propagule density of angiosperms was positively associated with specific assemblages of submerged macrophytes. High algal biovolume and summer waterfowl grazing seemed to affect maximal pond-scale cover of submerged aquatic vegetation. The presence of waterfowl in cold and spring periods was unrelated to vegetation structure in the consecutive main growth season. In addition, availability of propagules in the sediment did not automatically prompt pond-wide vegetation cover (especially when overruled by high waterfowl densities), nor did it guarantee a position in the submerged macrophyte community. Nonetheless, propagule bank potential was related to the waterbody’s general ecological status, since turbid ponds exhibited impoverished propagule reserves compared to ponds residing in a clear, macrophyte-dominated state. Inadequate recruitment therefore represents a plausible bottleneck for macrophyte establishment. We conclude that phytoplankton-caused turbidity and high waterfowl biomass densities greatly restrict submerged macrophyte abundance. Propagule banks also participate in structuring submerged aquatic vegetation, though a stronger role is reserved for herbivorous waterfowl.

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