Macrophyte species composition and structure along littoral region in relation to limnological variables of a tropical wetland ecosystem.
The composition and structure of macrophyte communities of the littoral region of Bhindawas wetland (India) was investigated. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) if limnological variables such as water chemistry and soil parameters are important determinants of species composition and abundance and (2) what is the variance in species richness and composition within the wetland. Twenty-eight macrophyte species belonging to 17 different families were identified with relatively low species diversity and richness (H′=2.09; Margalef index=1.12). Eichhornia crassipes, attained the highest relative frequency (22.69%), followed by Salvinia natans, Paspalum paspaloides, Phragmites karka, Cynodon dactylon and Cyperus alopecuroides. The first and second axis of CCA ordination explained 38.4% and 28.5% of the total variance of species-limnological variables relationship, respectively. Water-related variables (dissolved oxygen, pH and nitrate concentration) and soil nutrient factors (soil carbon and phosphorus levels) were significantly correlated to macrophyte distribution. Sampling sites formed two distinct groups based on cluster analysis, indicating varying ecological conditions. Generally, composition and abundance of macrophytes evince highly productive nature of the lake, while dominance of invasive species like E. crassipes and S. natans indicates high influence of increased nutrient levels and anthropogenic activities in the catchment on lake macrophyte composition.