Aquatic Vascular Plant Adaptations

Emergent, floating, and submerged plants

Aquatic Vascular Plant Adaptations

Aquatic Vascular Plant Adaptations nearly all grow anchored in the muddy or silty bottom. Through roots and root hairs, they absorb mineral nutrients to be used in metabolism and growth.

However, some can absorb nutrients from surrounding water through their leaves. When the upper part of the plant dies, part of the nutrients in organic combination are released to the water.

As the plants photosynthesize below the surface, they contribute to the oxygenation of the water and take part in the consumption of carbon dioxide.

Those parts that are above water may utilize the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere to make food matter that may become part of the aquatic food supply.

A body of water that produces many aquatic plants is usually considered a rich habitat for many forms of aquatic life because furnishes shelter and food.

For instance, the plants serve as bases of attachment for sessile protozoa and algae and thus increase the capacity of the lake to support such organisms.

They afford shelter or protection for insects, crustacea, and fish thereby enabling many of these organisms to maintain a breeding population.

The distribution of aquatic plants is frequently considered rather cosmopolitan. They are found in waters subject to much variation in dissolved salts, nutrients, color and transparency as well as physical and chemical variation of the bottom.

Certain species of aquatic plants are rather exacting in their requirements and may be somewhat restricted in their range of habitat.

Their limited distribution may be due to such factors as:
the temperature or depth of water,
the physical properties of the bottom,
the quantity or quality of salts dissolved in the water and
the competition of other plants.

Depending upon their tolerance and aggressiveness and also upon their mobility, aquatic plants contain many restricted species as well as many cosmopolitan ones.

A number of flowering plants have become adapted for floating on the water surface.

Of some 200,000 known species of flowering plants, relatively few grow as “true” aquatics in fresh waters. We may define “aquatic plants” as those whose seeds germinate in either the water phase or the substrate of a body of water and which must spend part of their life cycle in water.

This ecological grouping includes plants which grow completely submerged (except when flowering) as well as a variety of emergent types. In the United States, about 50 families of flowering nonwoody plants may be considered primarily aquatic.

The family Najadaceae is the a family of aquatic plants. The two genera of pondweeds, Potamogeton and Najas, include over 80 percent of the species of Najadaceae.

One or another of the species occurs in nearly all types of fresh waters. These plants are mostly submersed, some with floating leaves, exhibiting a variety of leaf forms, ranging from linear to broadly ovate.

Ecologically, the pondweeds are of great importance in the cycles of nutrients and respiratory gases. They often provid very dense habitats which supply food and shelter to numerous small organisms.

Pondweed, Potamogeton is one of the most important genera in the aquatic environment, especially as food or habitat for aquatic animals. Many potamogetons serve as a major item of food for ducks and geese.

Many other plants such as grasses, sedges, and rushes typically inhabit shore zones. These plants normally grow in very shallow waters, but usually in profusion. Upon death and decay, they contribute to the richness of nutrients in the body of water.

End of Vascular Plants in Water

More about Vascular Plants…
Aquatic Vascular Plant Propagation
Significance of Vascular Plants in Water

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