Macrophytes as indicators of the ecological status of a tropical rehabilitated wetland ecosystem: Application of multivariate statistics and Ecological State Macrophyte Index (ESMI)

Dimuthu Wijeyaratne, Aravinda Bellanthudawa


The present study used the Ecological State Macrophyte Index (ESMI) and the multivariate statistical methods to assess the ecological status and the variation of macrophytes in a tropical wetland system. Six sites were selected from rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated areas of an urban tropical wetland and the water quality parameters (water pH, temperature, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS),  dissolved oxygen (DO), visibility, biological oxygen demand 5 days after incubation (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrate, chlorophyll-a and total phosphorus concentrations), sediment quality parameters (pH, organic matter content, percentage sand, silt and clay content) and abundance of aquatic macrophytes were measured. Shannon Weiner diversity index, percentage vegetation under anthropo-pressure, macrophyte settlement rate and ESMI were calculated. Significant variations in the water and sediment quality parameters were observed and ten species of aquatic macrophytes were recorded. Salvinia melosta and Cypreus iria were recorded only from the non-rehabilitated sites. Although there was no significant difference in the percentage anthropo-pressure among study sites, the rehabilitated sites were displayed low anthropo-pressure. The sites in the non-rehabilitated area showed a significantly lower macrophyte settlement rate. ESMI and macrophyte abundance showed significant correlations with water quality parameters. Based on the results, it can be recommended that applications based on ESMI and multivariate statistics can be used to assess the ecological status of tropical wetlands. 


Anthropo-pressure, Macrophyte settlement rate, Sri Lanka, Tropical wetlands.

Full Text:



Barko J.W., James W.F. (1998). Effects of submerged aquatic macrophytes on nutrient dynamics, sedimentation, and resuspension. In: E. Jeppesen, M. Sondergaard, M. Sondergaard, K. Christoffersen (Eds.). The Structuring Role of Submerged Macrophytes in Lakes. Ecological Studies (Analysis and Synthesis), vol 131. Springer, New York, NY. 427 p.

Basu A., Sarkar I., Datta S., Roy S. (2018). Community structure of benthic macroinvertebrate fauna of river Ichamati, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 10(8): 12044-12055.

Bini L.M., Thomaz S.M., Murphy K.J., Camargo A.F.M. (1999). Aquatic macrophyte distribution in relation to water and sediment conditions in the Itaipu Reservoir, Brazil. Hydrobiologia, 415: 147-154.

Birk S., Bonne W., Borja A., Brucet S., Courrat A., Poikane S. (2012). Three hundred ways to assess Europe’s surface waters: an almost complete overview of biological methods to implement the Water Framework Directive. Ecological Indicators, 18: 31-41.

Braccia A., Voshell J.R. (2006). Environmental factors accounting for benthic macroinvertebrate ssemblage structure at the sample scale in streams subjected to a gradient of cattle grazing. Hydrobiologia, 573: 55-73.

Brousseau C.M., Randall R.G., Hoyle J.A., Minns C.K. (2011). Fish community indices of ecosystem health: How does the Bay of Quinte compare to other coastal sites in Lake Ontario? Aquatic Ecosystem Health Management,14: 75-84.

Brraich O.S., Kaur R. (2017). Temporal composition and distribution of benthic macroinvertebrates in wetlands. Current Science, 112(1): 116-125.

Ciecierska H. (2006). Evaluation of the status of lakes located in the City of Olsztyn (Masurian Lake District, N-E Poland) by the macrophytoindication method (MPhI). Hydrobiologia, 570(1): 141-146.

Ciecierska H., Kolada A. (2013). ESMI: a macrophyte index for assessing the ecological status of lakes. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 86: 5501-5517.

Ciecierska H. (2008). Macrophyte based indices of the ecological state of lakes. Dissertations and Monographs. University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. 139 p. (In Polish with English summary)

Ciecierska H., Dynowska M. (2013). Biological methods for assessing the state of the environment. Volume 2. Water ecosystems. UMW, Olsztyn.

Ciecierska H., Kolada A., Soszka H., Gołub M. (2010). A method for macrophyte-based assessment of the ecological status of lakes, developed and implemented for the purpose of environmental protection in Poland. Proceedings of the 4th BALWOIS Conference on water observation and information system for decision support. Orchid, Republic of Macedonia. http:// BALWOIS2010.pdf Accessed 20 May 2019.

Dahanayaka D.D.G.L., Wijeyaratne M.J.S. (2006). Diversity of macrobenthic community in the Negombo estuary, Sri Lanka with special reference to environmental conditions. Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 11: 43-61.

Dar N.S., Pandit A.K., Ganai B.A. (2014). Factors affecting the distribution patterns of aquatic macrophytes. Limnological Review, 14(2): 75-81.

Dassanayake M.D., Fosberg F.R. (1980-1991). A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. I–VII, Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India.

Dassanayake M.D., Fosberg F.R., Clayton W.D. (1994-1995). A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. VIII–IX, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India.

Dassanayake M.D., Clayton W.D. (1996-2000). A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. X–XII, Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India.

Fu H., Zhong J., Yuan G., Ni L., Xie P., Cao T. (2014). Functional traits composition predicts macrophytes community productivity along a water depth gradient in a freshwater lake. Ecology and Evolution, 4: 1516-1523.

Gidudu B., Copeland R.S., Wanda F., Ochaya H., Cuda J.P., Overholt W.A. (2011). Distribution, interspecific associations and abundance of aquatic plants in Lake Bisina, Uganda. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, 49: 19-27.

Henry-Silva G.G., Camargo A.F.M., Pezzato M.M. (2008). Growth of free-floating aquatic macrophytes in different concentrations of nutrients. Hydrobiologia, 610: 153-160.

Hilt S. (2015). Regime shifts between macrophytes and phytoplankton – concepts beyond shallow lakes, unravelling stabilizing mechanisms and practical consequences. Limnetica, 34(2): 467-480.

Idroos F.S., Manage P.M. (2012). Aquatic life health quality assessment of the Bolgoda Canal and Waga Stream with respect to selected physico-chemical parameters and bioindicators. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment, 2(2): 13-26.

Jasser I. (1995). The influence of macrophytes on a phytoplankton community in experimental conditions. Hydrobiologia, 306(1): 21-32.

Karr J.R. (1981). Assessment of biotic integrity using fish communities. Fisheries, 6: 21-27.

Knight R.L., Gu.B., Clarke R.A., Newman J.M. (2003). Long-term phosphorus removal in Florida aquatic systems dominated by submerged aquatic vegetation. Ecological Engineering, 20(1): 45-63.

Kolada A., Soszka H., Cydzik D., Golub M. (2005). Abiotic typology of Polish lakes. Limnologica, 35: 145-150.

Kunii H. (1991). Aquatic macrophyte composition in relation to environmental factors of irrigation ponds around Lake Shinji, Shimane, Japan. Vegetatio, 97: 137-148.

Lacoul P., Freedman B. (2006). Environmental influences on aquatic plants in freshwater ecosystems. Environmental Reviews, 14: 89-136.

Langeland K.A. (1996). Hydrilla varticillata (L.F.) Royle (Hydrocharitaceae), The Perfect Wee. Castanea, 6(1): 293-304.

Lee P.F., McNaughton K.A. (2004). Macrophyte induced microchemical changes in the water column of a northern Boreal Lake. Hydrobiologia, 522: 207-220.

Lyche Solheim A., Feld C., Birk S., Phillips G., Carvalho L., Morabito G. (2013). Comparison of common metrics for phytoplankton, macrophytes, macro-invertebrates and fish for ecological status assessment of European lakes: a synthesis from the WISER project Module 3. Hydrobiologia, 704: 57-74.

Maddy F.A. (2009). A short review on some aquatic plants from Grenada. Sociètè d´Histoire Naturelle L´Herminier (Nantes, France). Technical Report. 31 p.

Murphy K.J., Dickinson G., Thomaz S.M., Bini L.M., Dick K., Greaves K. (2003). Aquatic plant communities and predictors of diversity in a sub-tropical river floodplain: the upper Rio Parana, Brazil. Aquatic Botany, 77: 257-276.

Panek P. (2001). Biotic indices used in Poland since the implementation of Water Framework Directive. Przegląd Przyrodniczy, 22(3): 111-123.

Priyatharsini P., Dhanalakshmi B., Veeramani T. (2018). Monitoring and assessment of water health in Relation to fish perception in Theroor wetland ecosystem, Tamil Nadu, India. International Journal of Recent Scientific Research, 9(5): 26708-26714.

Schaumburg J., Schranz C., Hofmann G., Stelzer D., Schneider S., Schmedtje U. (2004). Macrophytes and phytobenthos as indicators of ecological status in German lakes – a contribution to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Limnologica, 34: 302-314.

Søndergaard M., Johansson L.S., Lauridsen T.L., Jørgensen T.B., Liboriussen L., Jeppesen E. (2010). Submerged macrophytes as indicators of the ecological quality of lakes. Freshwater Biology, 55: 893-908.

Southwood T.R.E., Henderson P.A. (2000). Ecological Methods. Blackwell publishing. 593 p.

Tanaka N., Jinadasa K.B.S.N., Werellagama D.R.I.B., Mowjood M.I.M., Ng W.J. (2006). Constructed tropical wetlands with integrated submergent-emergent plants for sustainable water quality management. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 41(10): 2221-2236.

Warwick R.M., Clarke K.R. (1993). Comparing the severity of disturbance: a meta-analysis of marine macrobenthic community data. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 92: 221-231.

Wijeyaratne W.M.D.N., Bellanthudawa B.K.A. (2017). Assessment of suitability of macrobenthic mollusc diversity to monitor water quality and shallow sediment quality in a tropical rehabilitated and non – rehabilitated wetland system. International Journal of Aquatic Biology, 5(2): 95-107.

Wijeyarate W.M.D.N., Kalaotuwawe K.M.B.P.P. (2017). Evaluation of the water and sediment quality of a lotic water-body in the western coastal region of Sri Lanka using Rapid Bioassessment Protocol II (RBP II) of benthic macroinvertebrates. Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 22(2): 85-97.

Willby N., Pitt J.A., Phillips G. (2009). The ecological classification of UK lakes using aquatic macrophytes. Stirling: UK Environment Agency, University of Stirling. 221 p.

Zimmer K.D., Hanson M.A., Butler M.G. (2011). Relationships among nutrients, phytoplankton, macrophytes, and fish in prairie wetlands. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 60(6): 721-730.


  • There are currently no refbacks.