An extensive survey of submersed macrophytes in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers revealed statistically significant differences in the composition and density of macrophyte beds in shipping channels (used by commercial vessels passing between Lakes Huron and Erie) and non-shipping channels. Of nine common macrophyte taxa, four (Characae, Potamogeton richardsonii, Potamogeton spp. narrow-leaf forms, and Najas flexilis) were found more frequently and three (Myriophyllum spicatum, Elodea canadensis, and Heteranthera dubia) less frequently in shipping than in non-shipping channels. In general, macrophyte beds were less dense in shipping channels than in non-shipping channels. We postulate that disruption of the prevailing unidirectional current patterns and erosion of suitable substrate or breakage of plant stems by passing vessels caused the observed differences in the composition and density of macrophyte beds in shipping and non-shipping channels in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers.
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Potential effects of shipping on submersed macrophytes in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers of the Great Lakes