Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Until the mid-XX century, little awareness on the ecological services or socio-environmental problems and benefits related to aquatic plants culminated in bottlenecks on their natural history, especially for the Neotropics. In this context, Acta Botanica Brasilica (ABB) organized this special issue to promote the advancement of knowledge on this ecological group in the Neotropics, supported by Sociedade Botânica do Brasil’s group of aquatic plants specialists. We selected and evaluated manuscripts gathering unprecedented findings, resulting from studies on aquatic plants, with little investigated or documented approaches, such as the improper use of methodological paradigms and aspects of biogeography, ecophysiology, morphoanatomy, structuration of communities, functional ecology, and human use. Here we present a synthesis of these reports’ findings that shall contribute to deepening the knowledge on the natural history, sustainable use, and conservation of aquatic plants and guide future research, mainly in Neotropical aquatic ecosystems. The publication of special issues on themes with insufficient knowledge to Science can reduce such gaps and expand the journal’s perspectives. Therefore, we believe that this special issue of ABB will boost the understanding of aquatic plants’ natural history as much as incentivizing journals with specific scopes of the area of Plant Biology to similar initiatives.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Species distribution modeling (SDM) studies of aquatic macrophytes are still attached to methodological paradigms focused on terrestrial plants, such as the use of bioclimatic layers. Our goal was to evaluate the applicability of this paradigm based on a SDM study of Egeria densa, Pontederia crassipes, and Salvinia auriculata in the São Francisco river, Brazil. We compared performances of optimizations of computed models using AUC and TSS with distribution records of these species and bioclimatic layers, or limnological layers generated from the interpolation of data obtained in the field. We calculated models using six algorithms. The models calculated using layers of limnological variables had higher performances than did those calculated using layers of bioclimatic variables, except when the Maximum Entropy Default algorithm was used. We attribute these results to the specificities of the data obtained to develop the limnological layers, such as observations obtained in different habitats of the river and during different hydrologic periods. We conclude that the use of bioclimatic layers, a methodological paradigm traditionally used for SDM of aquatic macrophytes, can be questionable for some situations, such as in investigations at local and regional scales.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT The use of computer image analysis can assist the extraction of morphological information from seeds, potentially serving as a resource for solving taxonomic problems that require extensive training by specialists whose primary method of examination is visual identification. We propose to test the ability of deep learning, SVM and random forest algorithms to classify seeds from twelve species of aquatic plants as an alternative to traditional classification methods. A total of 150 seeds of the species were collected. The attributes of colour, shape, and texture were analysed through the machine learning algorithms of deep learning, random forest, and support vector machine (SVM). Computer vision proved to be efficient at classifying species using all three algorithms, with an accuracy rate for SVM of 97.91 %, random forest 97.08 % and deep learning 92.5 %. We believe that the method performed well in our experiment and improved seed classification accuracy. As a result, the algorithms SVM and random forest were found to be enough at aquatic plant seed recognition.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Aquatic herbaceous plants are especially suitable for mapping environmental variability in wetlands, as they respond quickly to environmental gradients and are good indicators of habitat preference. We describe the composition of herbaceous species in two oligotrophic wetland ecosystems, floodplains along black-water rivers (igapó) and wetlands upon hydromorphic sand soils (campinarana) in the Parque Nacional do Jaú and the Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Uatumã in Central Amazonia, both protected areas. We tested for the potential distribution range (PDR) of the most frequent species of these ecosystems, which are the ones that occurred in at least two of the sampled wetlands, using species distribution models (SDMs). In total, 98 aquatic herbaceous species were recorded, of which 63 occurred in igapós and 44 in campinaranas. Most igapó species had ample PDRs across the Neotropics, while most campinarana species were restricted to the Amazon Basin. These results are congruent with studies that described similar distribution patterns for tree and bird species, which emphasizes a high degree of endemism in Amazonian campinaranas. However, we also found differences in the potential distribution of species between the two protected areas, indicating high environmental variability of oligotrophic ecosystems that deserve further investigation to develop effective measures for their conservation and protection.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Distributions of aquatic macrophyte species are commonly associated with water chemistry characteristics. However, other environmental factors that can lead to the occurrence of aquatic plants in lotic ecosystems, such as dynamic habitats linked to the surrounding landscape, have been underestimated. This study aims to evaluate landscape features that may influence the occurrence of species of euhydrophyte aquatic macrophytes in a tropical river basin. We assessed the occurrence of the following seven species: Egeria densa, Cabomba furcata, Potamogeton pusillus, Potamogeton polygonus, Utricularia foliosa, Pistia stratiotes and Salvinia molesta. We also measured environmental variables related to three spatial scales, local (limnological), channel and riparian landscape, along 25.5 Km of the Itanhaém River basin (São Paulo, Brazil). We found that local (limnological) and channel characteristics were important variables in determining the occurrence of aquatic macrophyte species while the landscape scale had little influence on species composition. Channel depth and margin slope were especially relevant abiotic variables in explaining the occurrence of four of the species but not P. pusillus, P. polygonus and U. foliosa. Our results highlight the importance of channel morphology for understanding aquatic plant occurrence and community composition in tropical rivers.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT The semiarid region of northeastern Brazil possesses a set of wetlands characterized by hydrographic basins with deficient drainage networks, a few large and permanent lotic systems and several permanent and temporary lagoons. Aquatic plants are widely distributed in these wetlands and the present study aims to determine if those of Ceará state have similar species compositions and differences in species richness. We hypothesized that lentic ecosystems would have more species and different growth forms of aquatic angiosperms than lotic ecosystems. A total of 1619 records of aquatic angiosperms in 43 wetland areas were analysed. The most representative families were Cyperaceae, Poaceae, Fabaceae, Alismataceae, Malvaceae, Nymphaeaceae and Pontederiaceae. Most of the species are helophytes and bottom-rooted emergent hydrophytes. Permanent lentic ecosystems had the highest number of exclusive species (27.85 %), followed by temporary lentic ecosystems (20.54 %). Contrary to our hypothesis, the different aquatic ecosystems were found to possess distinct species compositions and different proportions of growth forms, and all wetland types contributed to the macrophyte richness of the study area, although they differ in species richness. Therefore, conservation plans for the native aquatic macrophyte biota should include all wetland ecosystems in the semiarid state of Ceará.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Ecological communities are compared by the similarity or distinctness of their species. Taking into account community composition at a determined site, one could expect a similar reasoning to explain differences in both taxonomic and functional composition due to environmental gradients. We aim to evaluate spatial variation in functional composition of aquatic macrophyte assemblages in a Neotropical floodplain. The studied floodplain is characterized by encompassing different ecoregions considering both differences in environmental features and macrophyte taxonomic composition. Therefore, we hypothesized that macrophyte functional composition would differ among ecoregions but instead found limited differences in functional composition. There was only a little evidence that some life forms are more or less observed in certain ecoregions. Thus, the considerable environmental heterogeneity found at the ecoregion scale is reflected only in taxonomic, and not in functional composition. This result can be explained by different species having high functional redundancy: different functional traits could be recorded in all ecoregions. Therefore, we suggest that the functioning of the entire ecosystem is probably insured by species functional redundancy in this Neotropical floodplain. Nonetheless, we cannot rule out the fact that trait choice could affect interpretations, and so trait selection should be better explored, particularly for aquatic macrophytes.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Exotic grasses have been introduced into wetlands and can compete with native plants due to their high tolerance of flood and dry periods. Flooding can facilitate seed dispersal of exotic species and reduce the diversity of native species. We compared two grasslands to assess whether seed banks can maintain the diversity of native plants in wetlands with introduced exotic plants. We recorded a total of 136 species and a predominance of annual plants in the seed bank and vegetation together. The seed bank had high species diversity independently of the dominance of the exotic Urochloa humidicola in the vegetation. The seed banks of the native and cultivated grasslands differed significantly with a positive correlation for aquatic plants in the native grassland and negative correlation in the cultivated grassland. The seed bank revealed potential to maintain the diversity of native species in the cultivated grassland since the flood and dry seasons promoted the presence of distinct species in the seed bank, but lower richness in the vegetation reflects a dependence on the germination stage. The seasonality of flood and dry periods influences distinct growth forms, increasing the diversity of the seed bank and the vegetation.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Hydric fluctuations in the Pantanal comprise annual dry and wet seasons that modify local diversity and plant morphology and anatomy. Widespread in this wetland are the sympatric Pontederia azurea and P. crassipes, which, although primarily aquatic, can also develop in non-flooded environments. This study undertook a comparative investigation of the qualitative and quantitative phenotypic responses and strategies of these two species (regarding life-form and leaf morpho-anatomy) in moderately dry and aquatic environments in the Pantanal. Field observations, conventional methods in plant anatomy, and leaf biometry were performed, followed by statistical analyses. Phenotypic responses, such as the decreased size of lacunae, increased lignification of vessel elements, and storage of starch granules, are the most prominent responses associated with moderately dry environments. The ability of petioles to elongate and inflate seems to be closely related to specific morphological patterns of each species. In contrast, petiole length, leaf blade dimensions, size of lacunae, and lignification rates seem to be somewhat associated with water level fluctuations. Our results provide evidence of how plant structure can simultaneously reflect phylogeny and ecology, thus supporting further investigations into phenotypic plasticity.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Studies of plant phenology have been performed predominantly with terrestrial species and rarely so with aquatic communities. Such plants are fundamental for the aquatic ecosystems, representing a valuable source of resources when they are scarce in terrestrial environments for the fauna. Studies of phenology help to understand the reproduction rhythms of plant communities and provide fundamental support to management and conservation. This study aimed to describe the reproductive phenology of 15 species of aquatic plants and determine how it is related to climatic factors and physicochemical variables of water. Plants were collected every 15 days throughout a single year, from two ponds in the Cerrado-Pantanal ecotone, Central-West Brazil. Species were observed in flower and fruit throughout the year with varying phenophases among life forms (amphibious, emergent, rooted, floating and rooted submerged). Photoperiod stood out among climatic variables for flowering and fruiting times. Phenophases were explained by climatic factors, as well as by physicochemical variables of the water. Nitrogen and pH were the variables most related to the highest number of phenophases of different life forms. Such information is relevant to understanding how physicochemical alterations to water by pollution, eutrophication and siltation, among others, can change the phenology of aquatic macrophytes.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Biological invasions have negative impacts on different ecosystem-level functions, such as nutrient cycling. In aquatic environments, exotic litter can change the activity of the decomposer microbiota. We tested whether litter quality, litter decay, and enzyme activity differed between nativeEgeria densaand exoticHydrilla verticillata. The invasive plant presented higher lignin and lower cellulose content than the native plant. Both species showed rapid fibre decay in the first five days.E. densahad higher cellulose and hemicellulose decay thanH. verticillatta. Although the species did not exhibit differences in enzyme activity over time,E. densahad a higher enzymatic efficiency thanH. verticillata. This differential enzymatic performance can cause changes in the mineralisation processes of the invaded environments. The lower decomposition rates for invasive litter, associated with differences in litter quality, could increase the amount of particulate organic material in invaded environments.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Amazon wetlands are among the most vulnerable ecosystem to be impacted by climate change, which may increase the frequency of extreme droughts and floods. We used Eichhornia crassipes and Pistia stratiotes, two abundant aquatic plants in the Amazon floodplains, to evaluate the effects of combined temperature and [CO2] increase on growth, physiology and ecological interactions. Individual and paired plants were deposited for three weeks in a microcosm under four IPCC scenarios: control (current temperature/CO2), mild (control + 1.5 ºC, 200 ppm CO2), intermediate (control + 2.5 ºC, 450 ppm CO2) and extreme (control + 3.5 ºC, 850 ppm CO2). P. stratiotes died after three weeks in the intermediate and extreme treatments; E. crassipes experienced no mortality or change in any of the measured variables during the same period. P. stratiotes reduced root length in the mild treatment and reduced total dry biomass in intermediate and extreme treatments, revealing less tolerance to climate change. Ecological interactions between the two species changed with increasing [CO2] and temperature neutral interaction changed to facilitation for E. crassipes, while competitive interaction changed to neutral for P. stratiotes. Global climate change may alter the composition, biomass and ecological interactions of Amazonian aquatic plant species.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT The ability to maintain high competitiveness under a wide range of conditions is common among successful invasive species. The performance of rhizomatous macrophytes in different habitats is closely related to morphological and physiological adaptations in the rhizome system. We investigated the effects of soil moisture conditions on the microstructure of rhizomes of Hedychium coronarium (Zingiberaceae), an aggressive invader of Neotropical riparian sites. We collected rhizome fragments of H. coronarium and soil samples in wet and dry regions of riparian areas dominated by this species in southeastern Brazil. We measured soil moisture content gravimetrically and rhizome fragments were fixed, sectioned, and stained for histological analysis. Only rhizomes from wet regions exhibited aerenchyma, whereas amyloplasts were much more abundant and larger in rhizomes from dry regions than in rhizomes from wet regions. Even though low starch content in wet soils indicates the occurrence of anaerobic metabolism, the presence of aerenchyma may contribute to the typically high performance of H. coronarium in waterlogged soils. Although further studies are needed to assess how responses at the rhizome level affect the competitive ability of H. coronarium, our findings show that they may play a role in the dominance of this species in Neotropical riparian sites.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Aquatic macrophytes are a key group in flooded areas due to their high primary productivity, and several species present in the Amazonian floodplains have potential for human food use. This study evaluated biomass production and nutrient levels in fronds of Ceratopteris pteridoides (Pteridaceae), under the following nutritional treatments: (T1) artesian well water, (T2) natural lake water, and (T3) artesian well water with a nutritive solution. Each replicate had 25 plants of 25 g total fresh biomass each. The experiment lasted for 35 days and total fresh biomass weight, root system length, leaf dry biomass weight, root dry biomass weight and sprout number were assessed. The plants from T3 had the greatest increase in total fresh biomass with an average of 430.02 g, showing that the nutritive solution used in the experiment provided the best conditions for plant growth. The daily ingestion of C. pteridoides could contribute to mineral supplementation, in addition to diversifying existing crops and contributing to sustainable agriculture.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Submersed macrophytes have important ecological roles but non-native invasive species may affect biodiversity and water uses. We investigated the native macrophyte Egeria najas and the invasive Hydrilla verticillata and measured their maximum colonization depth and its relationship with Secchi disk depth, their biomass along the depth gradient and their preferred depths of occurrence. The Itaipu Reservoir was monitored for seven years, during which maximum colonization depth and Secchi disk depth were measured. During a separate sampling, plants were collected to determine biomass along the depth gradient. Ancova showed that the maximum colonization depth of both species increased with increasing Secchi disk depth, but the maximum colonization depth of H. verticillata increased faster with increasing water transparency than did that of E. najas. Quadratic regression revealed that the biomass of each species peaks at intermediate depths. Hydrilla verticillata colonizes deeper regions than does E. najas. The patterns found in the present study can be explained by underwater light and, probably, wave disturbances. The preference of H. verticillata for deeper sites indicates that the ecological niches of the two macrophytes differ, and that H. verticillata has great potential to spread and accumulate biomass in reservoirs.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT The tropical tanner grass, Urochloa arrecta, is one of the worst aquatic plant invaders in Brazilian freshwater ecosystems. This study aimed to compare beds of macrophytes dominated and without U. arrecta in the Guaraguaçu River, a subtropical tidal river in South Brazil, to analyze effects that this invasive grass has on the biodiversity of native macrophytes at two spatial scales. We compared macrophyte beds dominated by tanner grass to macrophyte beds without, considering species richness, composition, and beta diversity at two scales of variation: among-beds and within-beds. We expected that beds dominated by tanner grass would have lower biodiversity, thus promoting macrophyte biotic homogenization. Our results confirmed our hypotheses, highlighting the lower species richness in beds dominated by tanner grass. Species composition differed among beds. In general, nestedness among beds dominated by U. arrecta was more related to variation in species composition. Beds dominated by tanner grass had lower turnover and higher nestedness within beds. This study indicates a prominent sign of biotic homogenization promoted by U. arrecta, and highlights the degree of biotic homogenization among and within beds.
Abstract in English:ABSTRACT Mangroves are salt tolerant plants that occur in tropical and sub-tropical sheltered coasts. Saltwater intrusions into terrestrial landscapes often occur due to either anthropogenic reasons or natural calamities such as tsunamis. We investigated the potential of using mangrove species for rehabilitation of high saline environments by revealing the capacities of species to remove salt from sediment. We established the salt retention capacity of common mangrove species in Sri Lanka i.e., Rhizophora apiculata, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops tagal, and Avicennia marina through ex-situ and in-situ measurements of NaCl content in plant tissue and soil samples, by titrating with 0.01 N AgNO3. The results revealed A. marina to be the most efficient in retaining salt within plant tissues while C. tagal is superior to R. mucronata but inferior to A. marina in performing this function. These findings were further confirmed by measuring salt uptake rates of hydroponically grown seedlings of the same species. Although R. mucronata is the most popular species used for restoration, A. marina appears the most suitable mangrove species not only for coastal mangrove restoration but also for rehabilitating salinity affected landscapes.