A preliminary evaluation of lake morphometric traits influence on the maximum growing depth of macrophytes
Underwater light regime is widely considered the principal determinant of aquatic plant depth distribution. The majority of previous studies dealing with macrophytes in lakes have singled out Secchi disk transparency (SD) values as the key empirical proxy to explain the maximum depth of macrophyte colonization (Zc). Few studies have investigated the role played by lake morphometry in structuring macrophyte beds. Using a balanced dataset including 20 Italian lakes (10 shallow and 10 deep lakes), we analysed transparency and lake morphometric traits to investigate their possible effects on Zc. Our results demonstrate that lake area plays a significant role, and confirm a direct influence of SD values on Zc. Considering lakes with an equal degree of transparency, smaller lakes may yield a lower Zc than larger ones. Morphology has a great influence on lake ecological characteristics especially on water thermal conditions and mixing depth. Based on our data, we argue that the thermal stratification plays a non negligible role in explaining macrophytes zonation, due to its influence on macrophytes life cycles and phytoplankton vertical distribution. Therefore, the present data suggest the need to enhance and refine our knowledge about the relationship between aquatic plants distribution and lake thermal conditions to better model the response of macrophytes to climate change and eutrophication.
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Copyright (c) 2014 Mattia M. Azzella, Rossano Bolpagni, Alessandro Oggioni
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