Results of a 3-year survey (1978?1980) and review of historic trends have shown a major decline in the number of species and the distribution of submersed aquatic macrophytes in the tidal Potomac River since the early 1900's. The freshwater tidal river is essentially devoid of plants and only very sparse populations remain in the mesohaline section of the estuary. Present plant populations are largely confined to the transition-zone region where salinity instability at the fresh-to-brackish water interface is believed to reduce biotic stress on submersed vegetation. Many factors may be implicated in the loss of vegetation over major regions of the tidal Potomac River; however, long-term conditions of excessive nutrients appear to be primarily responsible for the present distribution.
Additional publication details
Distribution of submersed aquatic macrophytes in the tidal Potomac River