Importance of Aquatic Plants and Algae In a Lake's Ecosystem - LG Sonic

Importance of Aquatic Plants and Algae In a Lake's Ecosystem - LG Sonic

Aquatic plants fulfill various ecological roles; they are a natural part of every lake and their surroundings, and they interact with a wide range of organisms. When restoring a lake’s ecosystem, it is crucial to assess its aquatic vegetation first.

Aquatic plants

Aquatic plants are a food source for animals and other aquatic creatures; they provide habitat for aquatic organisms and cover for smaller fish. Aquatic plants help keep the sediment at the bottom of a lake, improving water clarity.

Most important, aquatic vegetation influences the oxygen levels within a water body and absorbs pollutants from contaminated water. When aquatic plants grow, they produce oxygen, which is tremendously important for a healthy lake ecosystem. Bacteria found in water also rely on oxygen; they are essential for the reduction of organic matter in a lake. Therefore, if plants stop growing, there is less dissolved oxygen, bacteria will degrade, and organics are not being broken down.

Algae and a healthy ecosystem

Algae are photoautotrophic cells that contain chlorophyll and have simple reproductive structures. They are similar to aquatic plants but lack roots, stems, leaves, and vascular tissue. Like aquatic plants, algae also conduct photosynthesis for energy, and they both need sunlight and nutrients, such as phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N), to prosper.

In all water bodies, basic algae levels are essential for a normal lake ecology and important for the water’s ecological balance. The term “algae” refers to a variety of organisms that generate oxygen through photosynthesis. About 70-80% of the oxygen we breathe comes from algae. Besides oxygen production, algae provide food for fish and other aquatic animals.

However, almost everywhere water is stored, algal problems likely occur. When water is stagnant and nutrient-rich, algal blooms are inevitable. There are over 30,000 species of algae, yet we learn of them when they become a nuisance and negatively affect water quality, recreation, aesthetics, or when they cause unpleasant taste and odors. The most common species encountered in lakes and ponds are: filamentous, planktonic, and macrophytic algae.

Nutrient pollution (excessive N and P) in water bodies encourages the overgrowth of aquatic plants and promotes harmful algal blooms (HABs). The more nutrient-rich the water, the more severe the blooms. These blooms hinder plant growth, as they provide shadow in the water. Less light for plants means less dissolved oxygen within the body of water. HABs also disturb the pH and other water quality parameters.