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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Assistant Ecologist
608-266-7714

Floating-leaved Marsh

Need a main photo for this community

State Rank: S4     Global Rank: G4G5   what are these ranks?

Definition

General natural community overview

The Floating-leaved Marsh community is dominated by aquatic macrophytes with leaves that rest on and cover at least 50% of the water's surface, or which exceed cover values for submersed and emergent macrophytes. These marshes can occur on large and small lakes, especially those with irregular shorelines and protected shallow bays, shallow lakes and ponds occupying steep-sided kettle depressions, and the backwaters of large and medium-sized rivers. Water depths favoring stands of floating-leaved aquatic macrophytes (approximately 7-8 feet) are generally greater than those favored by stands of emergent vegetation, though there can be spatial overlap.

Leaves of the floating-leaved species vary in size and shape, but in many species are round, oval, or heart shaped. The pond lilies have large leaves, and when dominant, can cover virtually the entire surface of the area they occupy; water-shield (Brasenia schreberi) is particularly successful in doing this in many acidic, shallow marshes. Under such conditions, the heavy shading can inhibit the development of beds of submergent or emergent plants. Some macrophytes, for example long-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton nodosus) and floating-leaf bur-reed (Sparganium fluctuans), have floating leaves that are narrow or strap-shaped. There is an intermediate stage in the life cycle of wild rice (Zizania spp.) when the narrow, strap-shaped leaves are flexible and float on the surface.

Floating-leaved Marsh may occur with other wetland and aquatic communities (especially marshes and sedge meadows) in poorly drained glacial landforms such as till plains and pitted outwash. It also occurs in lagoons protected by sand spits along the Great Lakes shores, especially on Lake Superior. In unglaciated southwestern Wisconsin, the community occurs mostly within the floodplains of the larger rivers as well as in impoundments.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the Floating-leaved Marsh natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = significantly associated, 2 = moderately associated, and 1 = minimally associated.

AmphibiansScore
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris3

BirdsScore
American Black DuckAnas rubripes3
Black TernChlidonias niger3
Great EgretArdea alba3
King RailRallus elegans3
Least BitternIxobrychus exilis3
Red-necked GrebePodiceps grisegena3
Yellow-headed BlackbirdXanthocephalus xanthocephalus3
American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus2
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticorax2
Common TernSterna hirundo2
Rufa Red KnotCalidris canutus rufa2
Whooping CraneGrus americana2
Yellow-crowned Night-HeronNyctanassa violacea2
Purple MartinProgne subis1
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeus1
Wilson's PhalaropePhalaropus tricolor1
Yellow RailCoturnicops noveboracensis1

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Painted SkimmerLibellula semifasciata2
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incesta2
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti1
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra1
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea1
Swamp DarnerEpiaeschna heros1

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Bog ConeheadNeoconocephalus lyristes1
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna1

MammalsScore
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus2
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus1
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans1

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Armoracia lacustris Lake Cress 2
Callitriche hermaphroditica Autumnal Water-starwort 1
Callitriche heterophylla Large Water-starwort 3
Caltha natans Floating Marsh Marigold 2
Nuphar advena Yellow Water Lily 3
Nuphar microphylla Small Yellow Pond Lily 3
Potamogeton bicupulatus Snail-seed Pondweed 3
Potamogeton confervoides Algae-leaved Pondweed 1
Potamogeton diversifolius Water-thread Pondweed 3
Potamogeton oakesianus Oakes' Pondweed 3
Potamogeton pulcher Spotted Pondweed 3
Potamogeton vaseyi Vasey's Pondweed 3
Schoenoplectus torreyi Torrey's Bulrush 2

Landscapes

The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Floating-leaved Marsh, based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.


Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.


Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.

Threats/Actions

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities

Photos


Floating-leaved Marsh Photos

Floating-leaved Marsh Photo

Dense Zizania beds and floating leaved aquatics.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Monday, November 14, 2016