Mechanisms affecting biomass and distribution of charophytes and Najas marina in Myall Lake, New South Wales, Australia
Two years of measurements are explored with a view to formulating an ecosystem model for Myall Lake. Stable physical characteristics, low catchment loads, low light attenuation, flat-bottomed hypsometry, and soft gyttja substrate allow stable charophyte biomass throughout the year in Myall Lake. Chara fibrosa dominates the total biomass and is abundant over the depth range 0.5–4 m. Nitella hyalina is found over the same depth range but has diminished biomass at depths greater than 2 m due to increased incidence of zero-biomass samples at depths greater than 1.5 m. Upper bounds for biomass densities were estimated for charophytes. Najas marina has great seasonal variability and meadows can have very high biomass in waters 1.5–2.7 m deep. High biomass of Najas marina is associated with low biomass of Nitella hyalina and may be a factor determining how the biomass of Nitella hyalina is distributed with respect to depth. Patchiness of Najas marina is particularly high. Temperature and light can support two growing seasons for Najas marina but mechanical disturbance is often high in spring and high biomass was only observed in late autumn during the present study. Less than 5% of the present-day production of submerged macrophytes would have been required to produce organic material of the gyttja over a 1,000-year period. The spatial distributions of gyttja and the dominant macrophytes are consistent with wind patterns. Down-lake limits on the distributions of charophytes and Najas marina are related to a gradient in the coefficient of light attenuation that is, in turn, related to proximity to the bulk of the catchment load.