Prediction of macrophyte distribution: The role of natural vs anthropogenic physical disturbances

Abstract : Questions: Do natural and anthropogenic physical disturbances equally affect the distribution of aquatic plants communities? Can hydrodynamic and geomorphological features be used to predict the establishment of macrophyte communities at the shoreline scale?. Locations: The study was carried‐out in two large, shallow lakes in southwestern France, the southern hotspots of isoetid distribution in Europe. Methods: Based on field observations (vegetation occurrence and anthropogenic modifications of the shore) and data generated by a geographical information system (wave exposure, wave‐induced sediment resuspension, slope and land cover), we defined sites and community groups using cluster and indicator species analyses. The groups were then analyzed by means of a statistical classifier (Random Forest). These different steps in data treatment enabled us to characterize the importance of each physical factor in determining macrophytes occurrence and distribution. As a result, a predictive map to forecast aquatic plant distribution at the shoreline scale was obtained. Results: Anthropogenic disturbances were less important parameters thanl variable natural physicas in structuring the distribution of lakeshore macrophytes. Within natural factors, wave‐induced sediment resuspension and slope had the most impact; nevertheless, the presence of swimming areas seemed to have a strong impact on aquatic habitats, being correlated with the total absence of aquatic vegetation. The predictive map obtained through the model spatially defined the position and occurrence of suitable sites for the settlement of both invasive, and rare and endangered species. Conclusions: In this study, natural disturbances play a major role in structuring aquatic plant distribution over physical anthropogenic ones. The model contributes to improving knowledge on plant communities with respect to local hydrodynamic and morphological features of lakeshores. Furthermore, the model provides the production of a predictive map as a useful tool for the management of aquatic vegetation in temperate shallow lakes.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 11:35:37 AM
Last modification on : Monday, September 2, 2019 - 2:46:16 PM

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Vincent Bertrin, Sebastien Boutry, Didier Alard, Jacques Haury, Gwilherm Jan, et al.. Prediction of macrophyte distribution: The role of natural vs anthropogenic physical disturbances. Applied Vegetation Science, Wiley, 2018, ⟨10.1111/avsc.12378⟩. ⟨hal-01759250⟩

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