Effects of Cladophora glomerata on Terrestrial Shoreline Plant Communities
Simic, Petar Z.
MetadataShow full item record
Cladophora glomerata is a filamentous green macroalga native to marine and freshwater ecosystems, which can be found as floating mats or as loose masses on soft substrates. A recent increase in incidence of C. glomerata blooms on shorelines has occurred in the Great Lakes due to anthropogenic influences as well as the presence of zebra and quagga mussels. Although the factors influencing the C. glomerata blooms have been well studied, the effect of C. glomerata on terrestrial shoreline plants is widely unknown. We devised a fine-scale experiment in Beaver Island, Michigan investigating the effects of C. glomerata on two plant species to help us better understand the effects of this alga on terrestrial shoreline plants. Growth of each individual plant as well as survivorship was recorded weekly in order to capture the mechanistic effect of G C. glomerata on Panicum lindheimeri seedlings and Potentilla anserina adult plants. How the C. glomerata treatments effected the plants depended on habitat, treatment, and species. The C. glomerata treatments generally excelled growth and survivorship for plants in dry and wet habitats because it provided a cover on the sand to reduce evaporation and released nutrients. Generally, C. glomerata treatments were detrimental to the growth and survivorship of the plants in submerged habitats due to blockage provided by the C. glomerata in which little or no light reached the plants. Although, the plants did not persist well in the submerged habitats in general, in the cases where plants did survive with C. glomerata treatments in submerged habitats, they generally grew to a greater level than plants in dry or wet habitats possibly suggesting some type of nutrient release promoting plant growth. Further research including field manipulations and fine-scale experiments with a greater amount of species are needed to fully understand the effects of C. glomerata on terrestrial shoreline plant communities.