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Positive feedback in floating plant invasion.
Scheffer, Marten*,1, Szabó, Sándor2, Gragnani, Alessandra3, Rinaldi, Sergio3, Roijackers, Rudi1, Franken, Rob1, Kautsky, Nils4, Norberg, Jon4, 1 Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8080, Wageningen, The Netherlands2 Department of Botany, College of Nyíregyháza, H4401 , POBox 166, Nyíregyháza, Hungary3 CIRITA, Politecnico di Milano, Via Ponzio 34/5, 20133, Milano, Italy4 Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden
ABSTRACT- Invasion by mats of floating plants is among the most important threats to the functioning and biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems ranging from temperate ponds and ditches to tropical lakes. Here we show that in shallow waters floating plant dominance can be a self stabilizing condition due to assymetric competition for light and nutrients with submerged plants. The resulting bistability has major management implications. A single drastic harvest of floating plants may induce a shift to a stable state in which they are rare, but nutrient control is key to ensure resilience of that state.
KEY WORDS: floating plants, alternative stable state, experiment, model