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Mass invasion of non-native Elodea canadensis Michx. in a large, clear-water, species-rich Norwegian lake – impact on macrophyte biodiversity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2012

Marit Mjelde*
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Gaustadalléen 21, N-0349 Oslo, Norway
Paola Lombardo
Department of Environmental Sciences, “Marco Giustini” Ecology Lab, Coppito Science Center, University of L'Aquila, I-67100 L'Aquila, Italy Limno Consulting, via Bedollo 303, I-00124 Rome, Italy
Dag Berge
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Gaustadalléen 21, N-0349 Oslo, Norway
Stein W. Johansen
Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Drammensveien 211, N-0281 Oslo, Norway
*Corresponding author:
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The impact of Elodea canadensis on aquatic macrophyte biodiversity in (Lake) Steinsfjord has been studied through extensive lake-wide surveys and photographic sampling. E. canadensis greatly expanded in Steinsfjord since its appearance in 1978 and still dominated the macrophyte community in 2004. The areal distribution of E. canadensis peaked within 6 years from invasion and has remained relatively stable since; however, stands no longer reach the water surface. E. canadensis significantly increased its depth range, but the cover-weighted mean depth remained unchanged, suggesting that 3–4 m is its optimal depth in Steinsfjord. Species richness has not changed significantly since the earliest survey in 1936–38. However, species composition has changed remarkably, from isoetid dominance in 1936–38 to a diverse community dominated by Najas flexilis in 1979–80 to a less diverse community dominated by E. canadensis in 2004, with Potamogeton berchtoldii and Myriophyllum alterniflorum as lake-wide subdominants. Regardless of their abundance at the onset of the E. canadensis invasion, taxa whose cover-weighted mean depth overlapped with E. canadensis's in 1979–80 greatly reduced their abundance in 2004, shifted to deeper or shallow water or disappeared from sampling stations. Our survey indicates that E. canadensis may be the reason for the decrease of N. flexilis, likely through depletion of CO2 in the water column and reduced nutrients in sediments. The abilities to survive and grow in periodically exposed shallow areas, combined with minor herbivory by waterfowl, are likely important factors for the increase of M. alterniflorum in Steinsfjord's shallow waters.

Research Article
© EDP Sciences, 2012

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