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Biological and practical tradeoffs in planting techniques for submerged aquatic vegetation

December 31, 2020

Global loss of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and associated ecosystem function has prompted an interest in SAV revegetation, particularly where underlying stressors such as nutrient enrichment are mitigated, yet natural recruitment remains low. Typically, SAV is hand-planted, but alternative reliable and practically scalable SAV planting techniques are needed. In mesocosms, we evaluated five planting techniques: 1) hand planting, anchoring using 2) fishing weights and 3) plaster blocks, and sediment-added methods using 4) peat pots and 5) burlap-wraps (“burritos”). Anchoring and sediment-added techniques were also field evaluated at four locations within a single lake. In mesocosms, all techniques effectively established two common North American SAV species, Vallisneria americana and Potamogeton illinoensis. Sediment-added techniques had species-specific benefits, e.g. burritos produced taller Vallisneria leaves, and greater Potamogeton biomass, while peat pots encouraged rapid Vallisneria shoot production. However, no treatment was universally beneficial across all growth metrics. In the field, all techniques were effective at two sites, but at two other sites, no techniques were successful. Results show that under favorable mesocosm and field conditions, all techniques promote establishment; however, subtle differences in technique-driven plant traits (height, density, nutrients) suggest that under specific environmental conditions, some techniques may be more favorable. Also, no technique offers practical advantages in every scenario, but each offers situation-specific advantages. Guidance emerging from this work is that all techniques are potentially effective, but small-scale tests in site-specific restoration scenarios, along with consideration of feasibility constraints, are recommended to inform large-scale plantings.

Publication Year 2021
Title Biological and practical tradeoffs in planting techniques for submerged aquatic vegetation
DOI 10.1016/j.aquabot.2020.103347
Authors C.B. Rohal, L.K. Reynolds, C.R. Adams, C.W. Martin, E. Latimer, Stephen Walsh, J. Slater
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Aquatic Botany
Index ID 70224291
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center