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Massive uprooting of Littorella uniflora (L.) Asch. during a storm event and its relation to sediment and plant characteristics

Authors

  • P. Spierenburg,

    1. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • E. C. H. E. T. Lucassen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    2. B-WARE Research Centre, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    • Correspondence

      E. Lucassen, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 AJ, The Netherlands.

      E-mail: E.Lucassen@science.ru.nl

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  • C. Pulido,

    1. Centre d'Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, Blanes, Spain
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  • A. J. P. Smolders,

    1. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    2. B-WARE Research Centre, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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  • J. G. M. Roelofs

    1. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Abstract

During spring storms massive uprooting of Littorella uniflora occurred in a shallow Dutch softwater lake. The aim of this study was to test whether changes in plant morphology and sediment characteristics could explain the observed phenomenon. Uprooting was expected to occur in plants having a high shoot biomass and low root to shoot ratio (R:S), growing on sediments with a high organic matter content. Normally, uprooting of the relative buoyant L. uniflora is prevented by an extensive root system, expressed as a high R:S. This was studied by sampling floating and still rooted L. uniflora plants, as well as sediment and sediment pore water, along a gradient of increasing sediment organic matter content. Increasing organic matter content was related to increasing L. uniflora shoot biomass and consequently decreasing R:S. Furthermore, the results indicated that uprooting indeed occurred in plants growing on very organic sediments and was related to a low R:S. The increased shoot biomass on more organic sediments could be related to increased sediment pore water total inorganic carbon (TIC; mainly CO2) availability. Additionally, increased phosphorus availability could also have played a role. The disappearance of L. uniflora might lead to higher nutrient availability in the sediments. It is suggested that this could eventually promote the expansion of faster-growing macrophytes.

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