Indexed on: 13 Nov '15Published on: 13 Nov '15Published in: PloS one
Vegetative propagule pressure may affect the establishment and structure of aquatic plant communities that are commonly dominated by plants capable of clonal growth. We experimentally constructed aquatic communities consisting of four submerged macrophytes (Hydrilla verticillata, Ceratophyllum demersum, Elodea nuttallii and Myriophyllum spicatum) with three levels of vegetative propagule pressure (4, 8 and 16 shoot fragments for communities in each pot) and two levels of water depth (30 cm and 70 cm). Increasing vegetative propagule pressure and decreasing water level significantly increased the growth of the submerged macrophyte communities, suggesting that propagule pressure and water depth should be considered when utilizing vegetative propagules to re-establish submerged macrophyte communities in degraded aquatic ecosystems. However, increasing vegetative propagule pressure and decreasing water level significantly decreased evenness of the submerged macrophyte communities because they markedly increased the dominance of H. verticillata and E. nuttallii, but had little impact on that of C. demersum and M. spicatum. Thus, effects of vegetative propagule pressure and water depth are species-specific and increasing vegetative propagule pressure under lower water level can facilitate the establishment success of submerged macrophyte communities.