Macrophyte induced microchemical changes in the water column of a northern Boreal Lake

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Abstract

Water quality was compared between open water and vegetated regions of the littoral zone of a Boreal lake. Within region variation occurred in vegetated areas and was species dependent. In the water lily versus the open water stations, conductivity and concentrations of B, Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, S and Sr were elevated in the water column while N concentrations were lower. Wild rice areas were characterized by lower S and higher conductivity and Ca and Fe concentrations than open water areas. Variations in water quality in the vegetated regions occurred as a result of chemical exchange with the sediment in the proximity of the vegetation. Elemental concentrations in the sediment appeared to vary as a result of root aeration and nutrient uptake by the plants. Open water stations had elevated sediment levels of N, P and Al while elevated levels of Na were present in both the open water and wild rice plots. Water lily stations exhibited higher pH levels and higher concentrations of Fe, Mn and Ca than the open water plots. Plant tissue analysis indicated that between species elemental variation existed as well. Water lily tissue had higher concentrations of N, P, Mn, Zn, Ca, K and Mg than that of wild rice. It was postulated that aquatic macrophytes can influence the redox level of sediments and thereby dramatically alter the overlying water column forming microchemical environments in stagnant regions of the littoral zone.

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