Bioclimatic and habitat variability shape the diversity and distribution of aquatic and invasive macrophytes in the floodplains of Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot

Paper Details

Research Paper 13/06/2023
Views (242) Download (56)

Bioclimatic and habitat variability shape the diversity and distribution of aquatic and invasive macrophytes in the floodplains of Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot

Samim Borbhuyan, Nami Prasad, Titam Dey, Tapati Das
J. Bio. Env. Sci.22( 6), 152-166, June 2023.
Certificate: JBES 2023 [Generate Certificate]


Climate plays a major role in determining plant species richness and distribution patterns at a continental scale. However, a detailed investigation is necessary to understand the effect of climatic variations on species richness and distribution patterns at a regional scale, as other factors such as habitat types and associated environmental conditions exert significant influence at this scale. We conducted a study to test this hypothesis by analyzing species richness data from 1150 aquatic systems categorized into six types i.e., lotic system, marsh, pond, water-logged area, wetland, and wasteland area, located in five bioclimatic zones of Assam (CZ1 to CZ5) in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. The identification of the bioclimatic zones was based on Iterative Self-Organizing (ISO) clustering of 19 bioclimatic variables, which enabled differentiation of zones based on precipitation and temperature seasonality. The study revealed a total of 90 species of aquatic macrophytes under 67 genera and 34 families. Out of these, 23 species under 20 genera and 18 families were invasive. The richness of aquatic macrophytes including the invasive species increased with extremity of climatic conditions from CZ1 to CZ4. However, the richness decreased substantially in CZ5 that had the highest effect of seasonality of precipitation and temperature. Amongst all the invasive species, species such as Eichhornia crassipes, Ipomoea carnea, Cynodon dactylon, Pistia stratiotes, Mimosa pudica followed by Ludwigia adscendensIpomoea aquatica, and Alternanthera philoxeroides were available in all types of aquatic habitats and across all the bioclimatic zones with greater encountered sites thereby indicating their greater potential for encroachment and landscape spread in the study area.


Adhikari D, Tiwary R, Barik SK. 2015. Modelling hotspots for invasive alien plants in India. PloS one 10(7), e0134665. journal. pone.0134665

Aggemyr E, Auffret AG, Jädergård L, Cousins SA. 2018. Species richness and composition differ in response to landscape and biogeography. Landscape ecology 33, 2273-2284. s10980-018-0742-9

Alahuhta J. 2015. Geographic patterns of lake macrophyte communities and species richness at regional scale. Journal of Vegetation Science 26(3), 564-575.

Barooah C, Mahanta PK. 2006. Aquatic angiosperms of Biswanath Chariali, Assam. Indian Journal of Forestry 29(3), 307-318.

Bhanumurthy V, Simhadrirao B, Srinivasarao G, Rao VV, Raju PV. 2003. Application of remote sensing and GIS in water resources development. Water and Eenrgy International 60(2), 38-50.

Boylen CW, Eichler LW, Bartkowski JS, Shaver SM. 2006. Use of Geographic Information Systems to monitor and predict non-native aquatic plant dispersal through north-eastern North America. In Macrophytes in Aquatic Ecosystems: From Biology to Management. Springer, Dordrecht 243-248

Brundu G. 2015. Plant invaders in European and Mediterranean inland waters: profiles, distribution, and threats. Hydrobiologia 746(1), 61-79.  https://

Calder WA. 1996. Size, function, and life history. Courier Corporation.

Chambers PA, Lacoul P, Murphy KJ, Thomaz SM. 2007. Global diversity of aquatic macrophytes in freshwater. In Freshwater animal diversity assessment. Springer, Dordrecht 9-26. https:// /10.1007/978-1-4020-8259-7_2

Chamier J, Schachtschneider K, Le Maitre DC, Ashton PJ, Van Wilgen BW. 2012. Impacts of invasive alien plants on water quality, with particular emphasis on South Africa. Water Sa 38(2), 345-356.

Chaturvedi RK, Raghubanshi AS. 2018. Application of ordination methods for determining influence of soil properties on woody species assemblage in tropical deciduous forest. International Journal of Hydrology 2(3), 296-298. /10.15406/IJH.2018.02.00084

Cook CD. 1996. Aquatic and wetland plants of India. Oxford University Press.

Degaga AH. 2018. Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) Biology and its Impacts on Ecosystem, Biodiversity, Economy and Human Wellbeing. Journal of Life Science and Biomedicine 8, 94-100.

Dissanayake NP. 2020. Review article on Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb (Alligator weed); an invasive plant species in Sri Lanka and its control measures. Journal of the University of Ruhuna 8(2), 93-103. /jur.v8i2.7937

Dodds WK, Bruckerhoff L, Batzer D, Schechner A, Pennock C, Renner E, Tromboni F, Bigham K, Grieger S. 2019. The freshwater biome gradient framework: predicting macroscale properties based on latitude, altitude, and precipitation. Ecosphere 10(7), e02786. https:/ / /10.1002/ecs2.2786

Dong YW, Molinos JG, Larson ER, Lin Q, Liu X, Sarà G, Bates A. 2022. Biological traits, geographic distributions, and species conservation in aquatic ecosystems. Diversity and Distributions 28(8), 1516-1523.

Economic survey. 2021. Economic Survey Assam, 2017-18. Government of Assam. Transformation and Development Department. Directorate of Economics & Statistics. Website /sites/ default/files/swf_utility_folder/departments/ecostat_medhassu_in_oid_3/this_comm/economic_survey_assam_2017-18.pdf (Accessed on February, 2021)

Eid EM, Galal TM, Sewelam NA, Talha NI, Abdallah SM. 2020. Phytoremediation of heavy metals by four aquatic macrophytes and their potential use as contamination indicators: a comparative assessment. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 27(11), 12138-12151. https://

El-Barougy RF, Cadotte MW, Khedr AHA, Nada RM, Maclvor JS. 2017. Heterogeneity in patterns of survival of the invasive species Ipomoea carnea in urban habitats along the Egyptian Nile Delta. Neobiota 33, 1-17. /neobiota.33.9968

Elo M, Alahuhta J, Kanninen A, Meissner KK, Seppälä K, Mönkkönen M. 2018. Environmental characteristics and anthropogenic impact jointly modify aquatic macrophyte species diversity. Frontiers in Plant Science 9, 1001. 10.3389/fpls.2018.01001

ENVIS. 2021. Environment Information System (Online). Website /database/invasive_alien_species_15896.aspx (Accessed on February, 2021)

Evans KL, Warren PH, Gaston KJ. 2005. Species–energy relationships at the macroecological scale: A review of the mechanisms. Biological Reviews 80(1), 1-25. /S1464 793104006517

Fassett NC. 2006. A manual of aquatic plants. 2nd ed. Univ of Wisconsin Press.

Fernández-Aláez C, Fernández-Aláez M, García-Criado F, García-Girón J. 2018. Environmental drivers of aquatic macrophyte assemblages in ponds along an altitudinal gradient. Hydrobiologia 812(1), 79-98.­

Field R, O’Brien EM, Whittaker RJ. 2005. Global models for predicting woody plant richness from climate: development and evaluation. Ecology 86(9), 2263-2277. https: // /10.1890

Gillman LN, Wright SD. 2014. Species richness and evolutionary speed: the influence of temperature, water and area. Journal of Biogeography 41(1), 39-51.

Guhathakurta P, Bandgar A, Menon P, Prasad AK, Sangwan N, Advani SC. 2020. Observed rainfall variability and changes over Assam state. IMD Annual Report 16.

Han Z, Cui B. 2016. Performance of macrophyte indicators to eutrophication pressure in ponds. Ecological Engineering 96, 8-19.

Havel JE, Kovalenko KE, Thomaz SM, Amalfitano S, Kats LB. 2015. Aquatic invasive species: challenges for the future. Hydrobiologia 750(1), 147-170.

Hawkins BA, Field R, Cornell HV, Currie DJ, Guégan JF. 2003. Energy, water, and broad‐scale geographic patterns of species richness. Ecology 84(12), 3105-3117.

Heino J. 2009. Biodiversity of aquatic insects: spatial gradients and environmental correlates of assemblage-level measures at large scales. Freshwater reviews 2(1), 1-29.

Hooker JD. 1872. Flora of British India. Vol. 1. W. Clowes & Co. London.

Hussner A, Nehring S, Hilt S. 2014. From first reports to successful control: a plea for improved management of alien aquatic plant species in Germany. Hydrobiologia 737(1), 321-331.

IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). 2021. Global Invasive Species Database version 2014-2. (Online). Website http:// www. (Accessed 21 September 2021)

Iyabo UB, Happiness U. 2017. Aquatic macrophytes diversity and physico-chemistry of Asu River, south-eastern Nigeria: implication for aquatic ecosystem management. American Association for Science and Technology 4, 1-6.

John R, Dalling JW, Harms KE, Yavitt JB, Stallard RF, Mirabello M, Foster RB. 2007. Soil nutrients influence spatial distributions of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(3), 864-869. /10.1073

Kalita B, Baishya S, Kalita K, Dutta OK. 2011. Potential Aquatic Ornamental Plants of Assam. Environment and Ecology 29(2), 577-579.

Kanjilal UN, Kanjilal PC, De RN, Das A. 1940. Flora of Assam, Vol. IV, Government of Assam, Assam, India

Kim C, Lemke C, Paterson AH. 2009. Functional dissection of drought-responsive gene expression patterns in Cynodon dactylon L. Plant molecular biology 70(1), 1-16.

Kling GW. 1995. Land-water interactions: the influence of terrestrial diversity on aquatic ecosystems. Arctic and Alpine Biodiversity: Patterns, Causes and Ecosystem Consequences, 297-310.

Labat F, Thiébaut G, Piscart C. 2021. Principal determinants of aquatic macrophyte communities in least-impacted small shallow lakes in France. Water 13(5), 609.

Lacoul P, Freedman B. 2006. Relationships between aquatic plants and environmental factors along a steep Himalayan altitudinal gradient. Aquatic Botany 84(1), 3-16. /j.aqu

Lindgren JP, Cousins SA. 2017. Island biogeography theory outweighs habitat amount hypothesis in predicting plant species richness in small grassland remnants. Landscape Ecology 32, 1895-1906.

Mahanta R, Yamane Y. 2020. Climatology of local severe convective storms in Assam, India. International Journal of Climatology 40(2), 957-978. https:// /10.1002/joc.6250

Malakar M, Boruah S. 2017. Diversity and Seasonal Variation of Aquatic Macrophytes in Three Floodplain Wetlands of Kamrup Metro District in Assam. Environment & Ecology 35(4), 2718-2726.

Manolaki P, Papastergiadou E. 2016. Environmental Factors Influencing Macrophytes Assemblages in a Middle‐Sized Mediterranean Stream. River Research and Applications 32(4), 639-651.

Mikulyuk A, Sharma S, Van Egeren S, Erdmann E, Nault ME, Hauxwell J. 2011. The relative role of environmental, spatial, and land-use patterns in explaining aquatic macrophyte community composition. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68(10), 1778-1789.

Osland MJ, Enwright NM, Day RH, Gabler CA, Stagg CL, Grace JB. 2016. Beyond just sea‐level rise: Considering macroclimatic drivers within coastal wetland vulnerability assessments to climate change. Global Change Biology 22(1), 1-11.

Prasad N, Das T. 2018 Diversity and distribution of aquatic macrophytes with special reference to invasive species in Barak Valley, Assam, Northeast India. An International Journal of Environmental and Biodiversity 9, 102-108.

Punyasena SW, Eshel G, McElwain JC. 2008. The influence of climate on the spatial patterning of Neotropical plant families. Journal of Biogeography 35(1), 117-130.

Putra RS, Cahyana F, Novarita D. 2015. Removal of lead and copper from contaminated water using EAPR system and uptake by water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes L.). Procedia chemistry 14, 381-386.

Qiao H, Peterson AT, Campbell LP, Soberón J, Ji L. 2016. Niche A: Creating virtual species and ecological niches in multivariate environmental scenarios. Ecography 39(8), 805-813. https:// /10.1111 /ecog.01961

Rao AS, Verma DM. 1971. Curcumorpha- A new genus of Zingiberaceae. Nelumbo-The Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 13(3-4), 339-341.

RBG Kew. 2017. Plants of the world online. Website (Accessed 16 August 2021)

Rossato L, Alvalá RC, Marengo JA, Zeri M, Cunha AP. 2017. Impact of soil moisture on crop yields over Brazilian semiarid. Frontiers in Environmental Science 5, 73. /10.3389 /fenvs.2017.00073

Ruaux B, Greulich S, Haury J, Berton JP. 2009. Sexual reproduction of two alien invasive Ludwigia (Onagraceae) on the middle Loire River, France. Aquatic Botany 90(2), 143-148. https://

Sarmah R, Das AK. 2020. Ecological status of aquatic vascular macrophytes of Nalbari Assam, north-east India. Indian Journal of Ecology 47(2), 462-466.

Schneider AC, Lee TD, Kreiser MA, Nelson GT. 2014. Comparative and interactive effects of reduced precipitation frequency and volume on the growth and function of two perennial grassland species. International Journal of Plant Sciences 175(6), 702-712.

Shanab SM, Shalaby EA, Lightfoot DA, El-Shemy HA. 2010. Allelopathic effects of water hyacinth [Eichhornia crassipes]. PloS one 5(10), e13200.

Sharma SSV, Roy PS. 2017. Extraction of detailed level flood hazard zones using multi-temporal historical satellite data-sets–a case study of Kopili River Basin, Assam, India. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk 8(2), 792-802.

Shyam S, Das T, Kumar GP. 2020. Co-composting invasive aquatic macrophytes and pond sediment holds the potential for environmental amelioration: Selecting the right shade of grey. Acta Ecologica Sinica 42, 17-23.

Song W, Ding L, Liu M, Cheng J, Zhou J. 2020. Improving biohydrogen production through dark fermentation of steam-heated acid pretreated Alternanthera philoxeroides by mutant Enterobacter aerogenes ZJU1. Science of the Total Environment 716, 134695.

St. Pierre JI, Kovalenko KE. 2014. Effect of habitat complexity attributes on species richness. Ecosphere 5(2), 1-10. /10.1890/ES13-

Tabari H. 2020. Climate change impact on flood and extreme precipitation increases with water availability. Scientific reports 10(1), 1-10.

Tabinda AB, Arif RA, Yasar A, Baqir M, Rasheed R. 2019. Treatment of textile effluents with Pistia stratiotes, Eichhornia crassipes and Oedogonium sp. International Journal of Phytoremediation 21(10), 939-943.

Teixeira ADP, Assis MA, Siqueira FR, Casagrande JC. 2008. Tree species composition and environmental relationships in a Neotropical swamp forest in Southeastern Brazil. Wetlands Ecology and Management 16, 451-461.

Theoharides KA, Dukes JS. 2007. Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New phytologist 176(2), 256-273.

Tokeshi M, Arakaki S. 2012. Habitat complexity in aquatic systems: fractals and beyond. Hydrobiologia 685(1), 27-47.

United States Department of Agriculture. 2020. Weed Risk Assessment for Ipomoea aquatica Forssk. (Convolvulaceae)- Water spinach.

Velthuis M, de Senerpont Domis LN, Frenken T, Stephan S, Kazanjian G. 2017. Warming advances top‐down control and reduces producer biomass in a freshwater plankton community. Ecosphere 8(1), e01651.

Viana DS, Santamaría L, Schwenk K, Manca M, Hobæk A, Mjelde M, Figuerola J. 2014. Environment and biogeography drive aquatic plant and cladoceran species richness across Europe. Freshwater Biology 59(10), 2096-2106. https://

Wang W, Zhang C, Allen JM, Li W, Boyer MA. 2016. Analysis and prediction of land use changes related to invasive species and major driving forces in the state of Connecticut. Land 5(3), 25. https://

WFO. 2021. The World Flora Online (Online). Website (Accessed on February, 2021)

Whittaker RJ, NoguésBravo D, Araújo MB. 2007. Geographical gradients of species richness: A test of the water‐energy conjecture of Hawkins et al.(2003) using European data for five taxa. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16(1), 76-89. https://

World Clim. 2019. WorldClim (Online). Website (Accessed on January, 2019)

Yan H, Liang C, Li Z, Liu Z, Miao B. 2015. Impact of precipitation patterns on biomass and species richness of annuals in a dry steppe. PLoS One 10(4), e0125300. journal.pone.0125300

Zhao Y, Cao H, Xu W, Chen G, Lian J. 2018. Contributions of precipitation and temperature to the large scale geographic distribution of fleshy-fruited plant species: Growth form matters. Scientific reports 8(1), 1-9.