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Waterfowl grazing effects on submerged macrophytes in a shallow Mediterranean lake
Rodríguez-Villafañe, C.; Bécares, E.; Fernández-Aláez, M. (2007). Waterfowl grazing effects on submerged macrophytes in a shallow Mediterranean lake. Aquat. Bot. 86(1): 25-29. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2006.08.004
In: Aquatic Botany. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0304-3770, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Algae; Aquatic birds; Eutrophic lakes; Herbivores; ANE, Mediterranean Water [Marine Regions]; Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Rodríguez-Villafañe, C.
  • Bécares, E.
  • Fernández-Aláez, M.

Abstract
    Waterfowl exclusion cages were set up in Sentiz Lake, an eutrophic shallow lake in León (NW of Spain) in order to determine the role of waterfowl herbivory on macrophyte biomass and species composition. Total macrophyte biomass was high during the study (250 g DW m−2 in summer). The macrophyte community was mainly formed by Myriophyllum alterniflorum (95% cover), Ceratophyllum demersum (5%) and Potamogeton gramineus (<0.5%). High densities of co-occurring coots (Fulica atra; 24 ind/ha) and ducks (Anas penelope, A. strepera and A. platyrhynchos; 18 ind/ha) did not have a significant effect on macrophyte biomass in the lake. There were no statistical differences between total biomass inside and outside the exclosures, although plant biomass reached a higher value inside the cages than in the lake. Biomass species composition was significantly different inside and outside exclosures; C. demersum was more abundant in the cages than in the lake. P. gramineus, almost absent in the lake, became co-dominant with M. alterniflorum in some exclosures. The detailed study of M. alterniflorum flower buds in summer showed significant herbivory by coots. Flower bud abundance was lower in the lake (35% lower in June; 85% lower in July) than under waterfowl exclusion. The effect of waterfowl on macrophyte biomass in Mediterranean wetlands seems to be negligible as compared to effects identified in northern European lakes. Apart from an important role in dispersal, waterfowl in Mediterranean areas have a strong qualitative effect on the structure of plant communities by selecting most palatable species or their reproductive structures.

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