The impact of drought duration on two Potamogeton species with different growth forms

Maya M. Daumal, Dian Oosterhuis, Michiel J. J. M. Verhofstad, Roy H. J. Erkens, Edwin T. H. M. Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


When facing new climate extremes, aquatic plant communities may experience more frequent or increasing durations of water shortages. Aquatic macrophytes of permanently inundated habitats (true hydrophytes) may lack the physiological or morphological characteristics that protect terrestrial plants from drying out. Aquatic hydrophytes with floating or emergent leaves are expected to be more resilient to droughts than completely submerged plants, as they have morphological characteristics adapted to air-exposed conditions. Therefore, we expected the latter to survive longer periods of air exposure and perform better with increasing drought than a completely submerged growing species. Here, we conducted a microcosm experiment and exposed two Potamogeton species—the completely submerged growing Potamogeton perfoliatus and the areal leaf producing Potamogeton nodosus—to different drought conditions (1, 5, and 15 days). We aimed to detect how two species with different growth strategies cope with and respond to increasing air exposures with waterlogged sediment. Both species showed a resistance to 1–5 days of drought but showed high mortality after 15 days. They displayed significant differences in all measured morphological responses (shoot length, side shoot, and leaf counts), plant chemistry (carbon, nitrogen, and phosphate), and the produced biomass (shoot, root, leaves), and reacted significantly to increasing drought durations. Differences in their resistance were observed based on the mortality rate and morphological responses. To prevent long-term droughts and keep mortality low, we recommend to the water managers to identify areas of risk and increase water levels during dry periods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number73
JournalAquatic Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • Aquatic macrophytes
  • Climate change
  • Survival
  • Drought response
  • Plant morphology
  • Plant chemistry


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