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Aquatic macrophytes constitute an integral part of aquatic ecosystems, contributing to primary productivity, providing habitat for various organisms, and modulating water quality. Recent attention on the characterization and understanding of aquatic macrophyte communities within North America has primarily been the result of water-use problems caused by excessive infestations of “weedy” aquatic plant species.
Aquatic macrophyte communities have been sampled using such devices as oyster tongs and rakes, drag chains, various fixed-size quadrats, and complex hydraulically controlled pontoon-mounted mechanical biomass samplers. More recently, subsurface sampling techniques have evolved using scuba, and remote sensing techniques have been developed using various platforms from balloons to fixed-wing aircraft to satellites.
Sampling protocol for aquatic macrophyte studies should be designed to answer the specific question(s) at issue, applicable to the physical characteristics of the system, and able to provide reproducible results that allow comparison with other studies. The level of sampling detail is dictated by the complexity of the questions under consideration. Typical questions include what species are present, where, and in what amount. More complex questions may involve the functioning of aquatic macrophytes in nutrient and heavy metal uptake and turnover, their utilization as indicator organisms, and their effects on ambient water quality conditions.
aquatic plants, sampling, weeds, qualitative sampling, quantitative sampling, sampling strategies
Vice-president, Breedlove Associates Inc., Orlando, FL