Significance of Vascular Plants in Water
Significance of Vascular Plants in Water are a natural part of most aquatic ecosystems and provide many benefits to fish, wildlife, and people. In lakes, life depends–directly or indirectly–on water plants. They are the primary producers in the aquatic food chain, converting the basic chemical nutrients in the water and soil into plant matter, which becomes food for all other life.
The aquatic vascular plant community:
Provides fish food
Offers fish shelter
Improves water clarity and quality
Sources of oxygen
Protects shorelines and lake bottoms
Buffers against erosion
Provides food and shelter for waterfowl
Provides economic value.
These combined significantly contribute to overall primary productivity of the water body. More food for fish is produced in areas of aquatic vegetation than in areas where there are no plants. Insect larvae, snails, and freshwater shrimp thrive in plant beds. Some fish eat aquatic plants in addition to aquatic insects and crustaceans.
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.
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.
A number of flowering plants have become adapted for floating on the water surface.
Their role in community activities is interesting because the plant roots dangle in the water phase. The roots extract nutrients from the water in competition with phytoplankton. As the plants die, nutrients are returned to the water. Where these forms are abundant, they shade the water from sunlight thereby inhibiting production.
There are minute plants of flattened or spherical body form that are duckweeds that are widespread in the United States and are often found in association with the liverworts and the ferns.
Another floating species, the water hyacinth was introduced in the United States from South America because of its showy flower. In favorable areas, the plant quickly becomes an ecologically disruptive pest.
Members of the water lily family are also important flowering plants. In many lakes and streams patches of lilies are favorite nesting areas for certain sunfishes.
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Water Basics 101