Geographical Distribution of Floating Aquatic Plants in Relation to Environmental Conditions

23 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2023

Abstract

Communities of free-floating aquatic plants dominated by Lemnaceae (duckweeds) are common in ponds and wetlands globally with important ecological functions. In addition to the common duckweed (Lemna minor), other species of Lemnaceae, liverworts (Ricciaceae) and water ferns (Salviniaceae) often coexist over broad geographic areas. Despite these species all sharing a similar mode of life and resource requirements, they have important morphological and physiological differences. The degree to which these differences play a role in shaping their distributions is, however, unclear. We report a field survey of floating aquatic plants in southern Quebec, Canada. We find that species distributions are influenced by habitat specialisation to water phosphorus levels. High nutrient specialisation also followed a continual reduction in body size and morphological complexity, with smaller, simpler species found in higher nutrient sites. We also found a latitudinal gradient in species richness with more northerly sites supporting less diversity. Rare species did not show clustering suggesting that dispersal limitation was not an important factor in determining local abundance. The distribution of these plants appears to be the result of competitive sorting of suitable species from the regional species pool.

Keywords: Lemnaceae, Ricciaceae, species distributions, species richness, diversity gradient, field survey, Macrophytes

Suggested Citation

Jewell, Mark Davidson and van Moorsel, Sofia and Bell, Graham, Geographical Distribution of Floating Aquatic Plants in Relation to Environmental Conditions. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4330793 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4330793

Mark Davidson Jewell (Contact Author)

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal
Canada

Sofia Van Moorsel

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Graham Bell

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal
Canada

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