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Wigeongrass (Ruppia maritima L.):
A Literature Review


Harold A. Kantrud
Northern Prairie Science Center
Jamestown, ND

Throughout the world, communities of submersed angiosperms attract waterfowl, fish, and many other organisms to feed and rear their young. Wigeongrass (Ruppia maritima) dominates some of the communities most important to waterfowl. To properly protect and manage these resources, understanding the ecology of these communities is essential.

Early in this century, McAtee (1915) noted that "bays that have kept their wigeon-grass have kept their ducks; those in which the plant has been destroyed by influxes of mud and filling up of the inlets have lost them." The plant remains abundant in some areas (Chabreck 1972), but nevertheless has continued to decline in many wetlands that have a history of substantial use by waterfowl (Saunders and Saunders 1981). Thus, efforts are underway in several countries to restore wigeongrass and other important waterfowl food plants to their former abundance. The success of these endeavors requires applying a thorough knowledge of the life histories and environmental requirements of these taxa.

There are two brief life histories of wigeongrass (Stevenson and Confer 1978; Wallentinus 1979) and several dozen important papers on the effects of various environmental variables on the plant. The most comprehensive work on wigeongrass is a series describing the autecology, synecology, production, consumption, and decomposition of Ruppia-dominated communities in western Europe (Verhoeven 1979, 1980a,b). Wigeongrass receives little use as a test plant for laboratory culture and has few properties objectionable to humans. Thus, little information is available on the physiology and control of wigeongrass. However, because wigeongrass is important to waterfowl, considerable information is available on methods to establish and manage wigeongrass. Much of this information comes from studies in the southern and southeastern United States.

This report outlines the life history and management of R. maritima, probably the most important of all Ruppia taxa for wildlife, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Information in this report comes mostly from papers written in English or with English summaries.

This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 0810):
Kantrud, Harold A.  1991.  Wigeongrass (Ruppia maritima L.): A literature 
     Review.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Research 10.
This resource should be cited as:
Kantrud, Harold A.  1991.  Wigeongrass (Ruppia maritima L.): A literature 
     Review.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife Research 10.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 16JUL97).


Classification and distribution
Autecological classification
Development and reproduction
Roots and rhizomes
Sexual reproduction
Asexual reproduction
Growth and production
Chemical and caloric content
Habitat and associated abiotic limiting factors
Wetland type
Wetland area and fetch
Water column
Bottom substrate
Biotic communities and associated limiting factors
Diseases and parasites
Amphibian and reptile
Propogation and management
Control methods
Research needs
Additional reading
List of Tables and Figures

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