American wildcelery, Vallisneria americana Michx. is an ecologically important component of aquatic communities in the Upper Mississippi River (UMR). We conducted a study in 2002 to determine the association of several abiotic factors on the vegetative growth of Vallisneria in Navigation Pool 8 (Pool 8) of the UMR. We measured turbidity, percent light absorbance, surface water ammonium, surface water nitrate, current velocity, conductivity, pH and water depth throughout one growing season at 56 stratified sites based on where Vallisneria occurred in previous years. Sediment and aboveground biomass samples were collected during peak growth. Sediment was analysed for organic content, particle size, pore water nitrate and pore water ammonium. Vallisneria biomass samples were dried to constant mass. Because some sites were without water for much of the growing season, only data from 52 sites were reported. Biomass was associated with depth, percent light absorbance, turbidity and wind fetch. Vallisneria was abundant in the depth range of 0.55 to 1.03 m, in areas receiving at least 38% of surface light and in areas exposed to greater wind fetch (>2000 m). Our results suggest that the primary abiotic variable associated with Vallisneria americana in the UMR is light, not nutrients.
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Abiotic influences on the biomass of Vallisneria americana Michx. In the Upper Mississippi River