Curly-Leaf Communities (Interactions)

Potamogeton crispus (along with other submerged plants) is responsible for creating a habitat that supports a vast underwater ecosystem.

Besides sheltering fish and other macroinvertebrates that are common prey, these plants are responsible for replenishing detritus that rests on the bottom of the lake (known as the benthic zone). Also, curly leaf pondweed helps to improve water quality by stabilizing sediments and storing certain nutrients that are important for the lakes these incredible macrophytes reside in. Curly leaf pondweed can also remove toxins such as phenol, cobalt, and cerium.

Curly leaf pondweed is often found to be in competitive relationships with coontail, water stargrass, and other pondweed species. This special species of underwater plant beats out its competitors by early turion formation (check out P. crispus reproduction); this adaptation allows the plant to beat competitors to the blocks as it begins growth earlier in the spring.

Potamogeton crispus
is also a valiant and selfless  defender  of macroinvertebrates who are mercilessly  preyed upon  (okay, maybe not) by the vicious Lepomis   macrochirus-- more commonly known as the bluegill--  pictured to the left. Curly leaf pondweed provides  adequate shelter (and a nutritious food source) for many  organisms such as  caddisflies, damselflies, beetles,  dragonfly nymphs, and  midge larvae. Other predators of these organisms that  frequently hunt near beds of curly leaf pondweed include the veracious largemouth bass and the unimaginably inhumane black crappie.

Curly leaf pondweed is also very important in increasing the diversity of habitats and resources for macroinvertebrate species. Many studies have concluded that there is a positive relationship between the activity of submerged plants and the abundance of fish and other organisms in lakes! By affecting the light, local temperature, and oxygen concentration, Potamogeton crispus influences many ecosystems. The tissues of these incredible organisms can also be important parts of diets to many herbivores like ducks and coots!

Continue on to read about ecological control of this invasive species!