Submerged Aquatic Plant Community Dynamics

EPA Grant Number: U915544
Title: Submerged Aquatic Plant Community Dynamics
Investigators: Capers, Robert S.
Institution: University of Connecticut
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $78,484
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems


The objective of this research project is to investigate the importance of competition and disturbance and the means by which species colonize newly available space, whether by seed bank, vegetative growth, fragmentation, or winter buds. The plant community also will be characterized in terms of chemical and physical conditions, using ordination. Models developed in one cove will be tested for usefulness across a range of increasingly distant and ecologically different wetlands.


The investigator has been studying a community of submerged plants in a freshwater tidal wetlands on the lower Connecticut River for 4 years, characterizing the community and studying the degree of change that occurs naturally. The research will use both transplant experiments and removal experiments to establish the effects of competition among dominant species. Sediment samples have been obtained to study the importance of the seed bank, and plants will be removed from selected areas of the wetland to determine how species colonize newly available habitat. Paired quadrats will be selected for disturbance experiments, and exclosures will be constructed to determine the effect of grazing by waterfowl. Multiple regression analysis will be used to establish the affinity of species for particular chemical and physical conditions, and detrended correspondence analysis and canonical correspondence analysis will be used to characterize the community in terms of these conditions. The ordination and regression results will be used to predict the performance of submerged species in other wetlands, and the predictions will be tested by sampling in increasingly different wetlands.

Expected Results:

The study should result in development of a model that can be used at different wetlands to predict how species will colonize newly available space.

Supplemental Keywords:

plant competition, recruitment, seed bank, disturbance., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Chemistry, Aquatic Ecosystem, Ecology and Ecosystems, Ecological Indicators, anthropogenic stresses, coastal ecosystem, anthropogenic stress, estuarine research, water use, watersheds, nutrient loading, land cover, nutrients, nitrogen cycling, tidal wetlands, coastal environments, submerged aquatic vegetation, aquatic ecosystems, ecosystem, human modifications, SAV mesocosm, land use, nitrogen, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final