Q: What is the purpose of native aquatic plants along a shoreline?
A: Aquatic plants are essential components of most freshwater ecosystems. Many of Minnesota's most sought-after fish species depend heavily on aquatic vegetation for food, protection from predators and reproduction. In addition to fish, many wildlife species depend on aquatic plants for food and nesting sites.
Aquatic plants not eaten directly by waterfowl support many insects and other aquatic invertebrates that serve as important food sources for migratory birds and their young. Emergent aquatic vegetation also provides nesting cover for a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and songbirds. The reproductive success of ducks nesting near lakes, for example, is closely tied to the availability of aquatic plants. Beyond providing food and shelter for fish and wildlife, aquatic vegetation maintains water clarity, prevents suspension of bottom sediments and limits shoreline erosion by moderating the effects of wave and ice erosion. A healthy native plant community also prevents the establishment of non-native invasive aquatic plants. In short, many of the things that we enjoy most about lakes are directly linked to aquatic vegetation.
- Steve Enger, DNR Aquatic Plant Management Program coordinator