Floating aquatic plants form groups faster through current

(1) Four Corners Upper School, Four Corners, Florida

Cover photo for Floating aquatic plants form groups faster through current
Image credit: N Band

Floating plants are plants that freely live on water without formal roots. Examples include Lemna minor and Lemna gibba (common name: duckweed). Duckweeds are often kept under conditions with no current to reduce stress; however, this may not always be beneficial. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether water current, as an exogenous factor, can expedite duckweed integration after a stressor is applied. We hypothesized that duckweeds form a unified colony faster in a current-sustained environment than in motionless water. We found that colonies of duckweeds are formed through successive unifications of groups, mediated by the current. In fact, current flow disrupted and recreated the colony, which benefited the community because it reorganized and therefore enhanced both the diversity and the reproductive capability of the colony. In a current-disintegrating environment, the duckweeds never created a unified colony and rather formed small groups. The experiment demonstrated that floating aquatic organisms form communities faster in current-sustained environments than in environments where no visible current is present. These findings could have future implications in agriculture, conservationism, and artificial intelligence engineering.

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