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PeerJ. 2017 Apr 27;5:e3212. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3212. eCollection 2017.

Plant traits and environment: floating leaf blade production and turnover of waterlilies.

Author information

Department of Animal Ecology and Physiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Department of Particle Physics, Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, Netherlands.
Contributed equally


Floating leaf blades of waterlilies fulfill several functions in wetland ecosystems by production, decomposition and turnover as well as exchange processes. Production and turnover rates of floating leaf blades of three waterlily species, Nuphar lutea (L.) Sm., Nymphaea alba L. and Nymphaea candida Presl, were studied in three freshwater bodies, differing in trophic status, pH and alkalinity. Length and percentages of leaf loss of marked leaf blades were measured weekly during the growing season. Area and biomass were calculated based on leaf length and were used to calculate the turnover rate of floating leaf blades. Seasonal changes in floating leaf production showed that values decreased in the order: Nymphaea alba, Nuphar lutea, Nymphaea candida. The highest production was reached for Nuphar lutea and Nymphaea alba in alkaline, eutrophic water bodies. The production per leaf was relatively high for both species in the acid water body. Nymphaea candida showed a very short vegetation period and low turnover rates. The ratio Total potential leaf biomass/Maximum potential leaf biomass (P/Bmax) of the three species ranged from 1.35-2.25. The ratio Vegetation period (Period with floating leaves)/Mean leaf life span ranged from 2.94-4.63, the ratio Growth period (Period with appearance of new floating leaves)/Vegetation period from 0.53-0.73. The clear differences between Nymphaea candida versus Nuphar lutea and Nymphaea alba, may be due to adaptations of Nymphaea candida to an Euro-Siberic climate with short-lasting summer conditions.


Floating leaf blade production; Floating leaf life span; Nymphaeaceae; Nymphaeid growth form; Phenotypic variation; Seasonal change; Turnover rate

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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