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Different morphology of Nuphar lutea in two contrasting aquatic environments and its effect on ecosystem engineering
Schoelynck, J.; Bal, K.; verschoren, V.; Penning, E.; Struyf, E.; Bouma, T.; Meire, D.; Meire, P.; Temmerman, S. (2014). Different morphology of Nuphar lutea in two contrasting aquatic environments and its effect on ecosystem engineering. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms 39(15): 2100-2108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/esp.3607
In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms: the Journal of the British Geomorphological Research Group. John Wiley/Wiley: Chichester, Sussex; New York. ISSN 0197-9337, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Biebrza; scale-dependent feedbacks; morphological plasticity; bio-geomorphology; aquatic vegetation; nutrient dynamics; organic matter accumulation

Authors  Top 
  • Schoelynck, J., more
  • Bal, K., more
  • verschoren, V.
  • Penning, E.
  • Struyf, E., more

Abstract
    Aquatic plants (macrophytes) can have a large effect on river hydraulics and geomorphology. Though, the extent to how plant morphological plasticity actively influences these feedbacks has received little scientific attention. The nymphaeid macrophyte species Nuphar lutea (L.) Smith is characterized by a distinct leaf duality. Floating leaves shade most of the submerged leaves thereby limiting light penetration in the water. Despite their apparent negligible photosynthetic role, submerged leaves of N. lutea remain intact during summer and contribute a significant part to the total biomass. Our results indicate that the submerged leaves are crucial in plant-flow interactions and hence in the engineering potential of the plant, i.e. the capacity to locally reduce flow velocities and to promote sedimentation, including organic matter deposition. Plant individuals growing in running river water were compared to individuals from adjacent oxbow lake water. The number and size of submerged leaves were significantly higher for river standing individuals and the accumulated sediment contained significantly more organic matter, total nitrogen and total phosphorus, and was characterized by a lower carbon/nitrogen ratio and a finer grain size. We therefore argue that the submerged N. lutea canopy in rivers has the ability to create a high-nutrient, low hydrodynamic environment, resembling the conditions found in oxbow lakes. Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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