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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Stuckenia pectinatus - Zannichellia palustris Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Sago pondweed - horned pondweed Submerged Wetland

Community Description

Summary:
This pondweed wetland community is found in the glacial ponds of the Northern Great Plains of the United States and Canada. Stands occur in permanently flooded basins that are 15-100 cm deep, and moderately brackish to brackish. Vegetation is dominated by aquatic macrophytes. In Montana, Zannichellia palustris is dominant in all stands; Stuckenia pectinata (= Potamogeton pectinatus) is present in some stands. The macroalgae Chara sp. may also be present. In North Dakota, Zannichellia palustris, Stuckenia pectinata and Chara share dominance; Ranunculus aquatilis and Myriophyllum sibiricum (= Myriophyllum exalbescens) are secondary species.

Environment:
This community occurs in the permanently inundated, "deep water" zone of glacial ponds of the Great Plains in gentle, rolling, glacial terrain. In the Montana occurrences, water is usually 15-100 cm deep. In Montana, the type is found in mildly brackish to brackish water (945-15,710 ohms/cm), but is characteristic of brackish water (median of 3745 ohms/cm) (Lesica 1989). In North Dakota, the type is characteristic of waters with a conductivity of 2000-15,000 ohms/cm (Stewart and Kantrud 1971). Ionic concentrations are probably determined by a complex interaction of groundwater hydrology and underlying parent materials. Described Montana occurrences are at an elevation of 1200-1300 m (4000-4300 feet) (Lesica 1989); North Dakota occurrences are lower, probably 200-600 m (500-2000 feet). Underlying parent material is glacial till. Pond bottoms are composed of mud in Montana.

Vegetation:
This community is characteristically poor in species. Stands are dominated by aquatic macrophytes. In Montana, Zannichellia palustris is dominant in all stands; Stuckenia pectinata (= Potamogeton pectinatus) is present in some stands. The macroalgae Chara sp. may also be present (Lesica 1989). In North Dakota, Zannichellia palustris, Stuckenia pectinata and Chara share dominance; Ranunculus aquatilis and Myriophyllum sibiricum (= Myriophyllum exalbescens) are secondary species.

Range:
This pondweed wetland community is found in the glacial ponds of the Northern Great Plains of the United States and Canada, including the Dakotas, Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. This type occurred in 5 of 83 ponds sampled in north-central Montana (Lesica 1989) and was found only in the lowest and driest portion of the study area. In North Dakota, brackish-water ponds are probably more common in the western, more arid portion of the state. Looman (1986) reports this type is common in the Canadian Prairie Provinces.

Dynamics:
These communities probably experience little natural disturbance except inter- and, in less saline waters, intra-annual water level fluctuations (Stewart and Kantrud 1971).

Global Rank: G3G4 State Rank: S1Q

Global Rank Comments:
More than 6 occurrences of this community type have been documented in Montana, ranging from the glacial potholes of the Ovando Valley (west-central portion, Lesica 1994) to those of Missouri Coteau Subsection (northeastern most Montana) and including the area most intensively sampled, the prairie potholes of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation (just east of the Continental Divide, Lesica 1989); related or identical communities (supporting same dominant species) have been documented from Saskatchewan (Looman 1986) and North Dakota (Stewart and Kantrud 1971). This is a common aquatic type of open water portions of prairie ponds with slightly brackish to moderately saline water and a variety of bottom conditions. This habitat is not unique and the dominant (indicator) species for the community type are broadly distributed, so this type can be expected to occur from at least Manitoba and Minnesota westward and south to California and Arizona. This association was initially rated as rare because investigators had not previously differentiated aquatic species assemblages at the community type level.

Community References

Identifier:
CEGL002005

Author:
P. Lesica

Citations:
Bourgeron and Engelking 1994, Driscoll et al. 1984, Ferren et al. 1996, Lesica 1989, Lesica 1993, Lesica 1994, Looman 1986, MTNHP n.d., Stewart and Kantrud 1971, Stewart and Kantrud 1972

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This information is from the:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library--Natural Resource Information System
1515 East Sixth Ave., Helena, MT 59620-1800
406 444-5354
http://mtnhp.org
mtnhp@mt.gov