Aquatic macrophytes and turbidity—A case study
The distribution of macrophytes within the Condamine-Balonne River in the Murray-Darling FBP shows that submerged species are limited to the upper catchment where turbidity is comparatively low. However, species of macrophytes with floating leaves or emergent growth forms are found throughout the catchment. The distribution of submerged macrophyte is probably limited by turbidity.
Submerged macrophytes rely upon light penetrating the water column to reach them for photosynthesis to occur. Where turbidity is high, they are light limited and cannot survive. The map below shows the distribution of submerged macrophytes with a non-feathery leaf form within the Condamine-Balonne study area. These results suggest that submerged macrophytes are unable to live where turbidity is greater than 20-30 NTU.
Species with leaves on or above the surface of the water (e.g. sedges and water lilies) receive light through the air without loss through the water column, so they are able to live in highly turbid conditions throughout the system. Consequently these growth forms represent the only significant macrophytes in these turbid systems.
Last updated: 22 March 2013
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Aquatic macrophytes and turbidity—A case study, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/processes-systems/productivity/aquatic-macrophytes-cb-case-study.html