Macrophytes and Bryophytes

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Department of Biological Sciences


Macrophytes and bryophytes are plants that have structures that are usually more complex, interdependent, and physically substantial than benthic algae. In this chapter, we describe the characteristics and roles of macrophyte and bryophyte species that can thrive in submerged and flowing conditions. Macrophytes and bryophytes are often important components of stream ecosystems, providing an important physical substrate for periphyton, habitat, and refuges for benthic macroinvertebrates and fish, and ultimately detritus that provides food and fuel to heterotrophic bacteria. Individual macrophyte and bryophyte species are differentially responsive to environmental conditions and have been widely used to define stream community types and to monitor responses of stream ecosystems to terrestrial and anthropogenic drivers. In this chapter, we describe the specific characteristics that define macrophytes and bryophytes, discuss their role in stream ecosystems, and provide instructions for common methods to sample them.

Publication Title

Methods in Stream Ecology: Third Edition