Aquatic Macrophytes

African Great lakes are fringed by sandy shorelines, only occasionally interspaced by macrophytes like reeds (emergent Phragmites), Vossia cuspidata, and sedges (Typha species). Few submergents like Salvinia and broad-leaved floating plants occur. In recent times, the water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes has become a menace to many of the lakes. The biomass of Hippo grass Vossia species and papyrus Cyperus papyrus have recently increased in Lake Victoria. Papyrus is characteristic of swampy zones around lakes of central and eastern tropical Africa, suggesting a non-sustainable status. Even without alien introductions, new studies indicate trophic shifts in Lakes Malawi/Nyasa and Malombe attributed to overfishing and possibly also to climate change.

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