Written by Industry Expert, Chris Doyle, Certified Lake Manager
A healthy lake or pond should have a variety of native aquatic plants, preferably including submersed, floating and emergent plant types. A diverse community not only adds beauty to your lake or pond, but also provides an array of benefits for your ecosystem and can ultimately help lead to a more balanced waterbody.
Native aquatic plants:
• Act as a Food Source for Aquatic Animals
Forage fish species and aquatic invertebrates consume plant material, providing a crucial link in the food web of a lake or pond. Many waterfowl also consume the seeds or tubers produced by aquatic plants.
• Provide Fish and Wildlife Habitat
Fish use aquatic plants in several ways to benefit their productivity. Some fish species utilize vegetative material for nest construction or nesting sites. Waterfowl also use aquatic plants for cover and nesting. Many juvenile fish hide in the cover of plants to avoid predators, while certain ambush predators like pickerel actually require aquatic plant beds for successful prey capture.
• Help Improve Water Quality
The presence of aquatic plants can serve as a deterrent to unwanted nutrients in a lake or pond. For example, emergent shoreline aquatic plants can absorb nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen before nuisance algae can utilize them. Aquatic plants also stabilize the bottom sediments of the waterbody, helping lead to improved water quality and clarity.
• Stabilize the Shoreline and Waterbody Bottom
Rooted aquatic plants reduce wave action impacts and hold the bottom sediments more efficiently. These actions help to reduce turbidity and the potential re-suspension of nutrients bound in the sediment.
• Improve Aesthetics
A diverse community of emergent, submersed and floating aquatic plants, especially those with colorful flowers, adds to the overall beauty of your lake or pond.
One of the most important benefits of having a healthy community of native aquatic plants is that an abundant native plant population reduces the effectiveness of exotic invasive vegetation to colonize your lake or pond. And if your aquatic plant community is in balance, there is a better chance that other aquatic life, such as fish and plankton, will also be in balance.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even a healthy community of native aquatic plants may become a nuisance which requires active management in order to get the most recreational use out of the waterbody. Dense stands of emergent plants can crowd out more desirable lower growing plants, and complete coverage of the waterbody by floating plants can create frustrating fishing conditions. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance for your individual aquatic ecosystem.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Chris Doyle is a Senior Aquatic Biologist, Water Quality Program Supervisor and Certified Lake Manager with SOLitude Lake Management. Chris Doyle has over 20 years of experience as an aquatic biologist, with a focus on invertebrate, algal and aquatic macrophyte taxonomy. He currently oversees a staff of field technicians conducting water quality and biological assessments.
SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.