Plant traits and environment: floating leaf blade production and turnover of Nymphoides peltata (S.G. Gmel.) O. Kuntze (Menyanthaceae)

PeerJ. 2022 Sep 1;10:e13976. doi: 10.7717/peerj.13976. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: Nymphaeid macrophytes, rooting in the sediment of water bodies and characterized by floating leaves, play an important role in wetland ecosystems. The present research deals with the effects of limited space, limited nutrient availability, water temperature and an unexpected inundation on the production, turnover and plasticity of floating leaves of the globally widespread species Nymphoides peltata (Fringed waterlily).

METHODS: The effects of these environmental conditions were studied in two plots in outdoor concrete tanks (CT1, CT2, mesocosms simulating occurrence in small ponds) and in two plots in the floodplain oxbow lake Bemmelse Strang (BS1, BS2). Plot CT1 was situated in a stand coexisting with helophytes, plot CT2 in a monospecific stand, plot BS1 in the center and plot BS2 at the open water border of a monospecific stand. All floating leaf blades within the plots were marked at appearance at the water surface and subsequently length, width and damage of each leaf and maximum and minimum water temperatures were measured bi-weekly. Area and biomass of leaf blades were calculated based on leaf length and width and were used to calculate turnover rates and production.

RESULTS: The growth period started in May and ended mid-October with continuous production of floating leaves during nearly the whole vegetation period. In the tanks the water level was very stable, but the lake underwent an inundation by river water, causing a sudden loss of existing leaves. Considering environmental conditions and based on the assumed ranking from low to high nutrient availability, the ranking of the plots was CT1, CT2, BS1, BS2. This order was found for maximum leaf life span and maximum leaf length, and the reverse order was found for number of leaves, new leaves per day and duration of the vegetation period. Turnover rates appeared to be relatively similar for plots CT1, CT2 and BS1, but for the deeper border plot BS2 lower ratios were found. These results indicate that increased enclosure with expected nutrient limitation causes (1) the production of high numbers of small leaves with larger totals for leaf area and biomass, (2) a shift towards increased sexual reproduction by the production of more flowering stem leaves.

PMID:36068866 | PMC:PMC9441140 | DOI:10.7717/peerj.13976


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