Following declines in submersed macrophyte populations in tidal ecosystems, revegetation of areas devoid of macrophytes may be sudden and rapid or may not occur for years. Declines of submersed macrophyte populations in the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal Potomac River have been attributed to insufficient light in the water column; however, the role of light in promoting revegetation has never been unequivocally documented. Photon irradiance was artificially increased for Vallisneria americana transplants in two unvegetated embayments in the otherwise vegetated freshwater tidal Potomac River: Pohick Bay and Belmont Bay. Pohick Bay had high nutrient concentrations and frequent algal blooms. Belmont Bay was broader and shallower than Pohick Bay with turbidity resulting from wind- driven resuspension of sediment. The total number of plants of V. americana in the lighted cages was 7.5 times higher than that in the unlighted cages at Pohick Bay and 11 times higher than that in the unlighted control cages in Belmont Bay. The biomass in the lighted cages was 11-fold higher in Belmont Bay and 38-fold higher in Pohick Bay than that in the control cages. Plants were less numerous and more robust in lighted cages in Pohick Bay than in Belmont Bay.
Additional publication details
Effect of increasing photon irradiance on the growth of Vallisneria americana in the tidal Potomac River