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Water brownification may increase the invasibility of a submerged non-native macrophyte

  • Roger Paulo Mormul
  • Johan Ahlgren
  • Mattias Ekvall
  • Lars-Anders Hansson
  • Christer Brönmark
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 2091-2099
Publication/Series: Biological Invasions
Volume: 14
Issue: 10
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Environmental conditions and human activities play a significant role in structuring novel assemblages of native and non-native species. Ongoing and future climatic change may alter the performance of native and non-native species and their biotic interactions. In the northern hemisphere, expected climate changes include warmer temperatures and higher precipitation, the latter of which may increase dissolved organic carbon (humic) concentrations, resulting in browner water in aquatic ecosystems (brownification). We tested the effects of elevated temperature (3 A degrees C) and brownification on native and non-native aquatic plant production in mesocosms over 56 days. Elodea canadensis, an aquatic invasive plant, had higher relative growth rate in terms of both length and weight, as well as higher weight to length ratio when grown in brown versus clear water; E. canadensis did not respond to temperature treatments. Different functional groups of native producers (phytoplankton, periphyton, macrophytes) showed different relationships to temperature and brownification treatments, with the macrophyte response being most notable because it was opposite to that of E. canadensis. Native macrophytes decreased in biomass in browner water, where they represented about 40 % of total biomass compared to 85 % in clear water. In regression analyses, E. canadensis length RGR was best predicted only by water color treatment, but biomass RGR and biomass per length were inversely correlated with native macrophyte biomass, which is consistent with competition. Our results unexpectedly showed water brownification to have more influence on lake invasion than climate warming at this temperature regime. Two pathways emerged for climate to interact with biological invasions in structuring novel communities: directly, if non-native species respond positively to climate change, and indirectly through species interactions, for instance, because water brownification impairs growth of native macrophytes and reduces biotic resistance to invasion.


  • Ecology
  • Invasion
  • Brown water
  • Climate change
  • Light availability
  • Macrophyte
  • growth
  • Biotic resistance
  • Resource availability


  • Centre for Animal Movement Research
  • ISSN: 1387-3547
Lars-Anders Hansson
E-mail: lars-anders [dot] hansson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 41 69






Research group

Aquatic Ecology

Other projects I´m involved in

Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

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