AS SEEN IN Bass Master: Written by Fisheries Biologist Vic DiCenzo, PhD
Fisheries biologists consider aquatic plants to be an important component for healthy aquatic ecosystems. Aquatic plants serve a variety of functions including production of oxygen, recycling nutrients, reducing turbidity and providing food, spawning substrate and habitat for invertebrates and fish. However, while anglers and hunters favor an abundance of aquatic plants in reservoirs, many lake users prefer little to no vegetation. These differences challenge reservoir managers when developing management plans.
A survey of 1,299 reservoirs in the U.S. identified excessive plant coverage was a management concern in only 10 percent of the reservoirs surveyed, and not enough plant coverage was a concern in more than 25 percent.
How much aquatic vegetation should be in the lake? It depends on which stakeholder you ask. On U.S. reservoirs, stakeholders include anglers, hunters, boaters, swimmers, homeowners, commercial interests, wildlife watchers, state and federal agencies, real estate agents, just to name a few. Each of these groups likely has a unique tolerance for aquatic vegetation and reservoir managers must face the challenge of recognizing those differences.
How do decision makers manage aquatic plants for different stakeholder values? Is there a level of plant coverage acceptable to all stakeholders? How do invasive species affect management options? What does a successful aquatic plant management plan look like?