Sedimentation resulting from storms may have been one of the reasons for the elimination of submersed aquatic vegetation from the tidal Potomac River in the late 1930's. Laboratory studies were conducted to investigate the effects of different depths of overlying sediment and composition of sediment on the survival of Vallisneria americana Michx (wildcelery) grown from tubers. Survival of plants grown from tubers decreased significantly with increasing sediment depth. Survival of tubers declined from 90% or more when buried in 10 cm to no survival in greater than 25 cm of sediment. Survival with depth in sand was significantly lower than in silty clay. Field investigation determined that the majority of tubers in Vallisneria beds are distributed between 10 and 20 cm in depth in silty clay and between 5 and 15 cm in depth in sand. Based on the field distribution of tubers and on the percent survival of plants growing from tubers at each depth in the laboratory experiment, we suggest that the deposition of 10 cm or more of sediment by severe storms such as occurred in the 1930s could contribute to the loss of vegetation in the tidal Potomac River. ?? 1986.
Additional publication details
Effect of sediment depth and sediment type on the survival of Vallisneria americana Michx grown from tubers