Biodiversity & Conservation

Potamogeton pectinatus community



Image Martin Isaeus - A bed of fennel pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus.
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Distribution map

SS.SMp.Ang.A12 recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
UK Biodiversity Action Plan
National importance Scarce
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Lagoons

Biotope importance

Pondweed communities provide primary productivity to brackish water environments and add habitat complexity to otherwise low diversity habitats. Aquatic plants and seagrass provide primary productivity to surrounding communities and deeper waters via the detrital food chain. In addition, they support significant invertebrate secondary productivity. Aquatic macrophyte beds provide temporary substratum for juvenile settlement and a refuge from predation for some species. The invertebrate population they support is probably an important food source for small predatory fish such as sticklebacks as well as water fowl.

Pondweed beds and especially Potamogeton pectinatus, are cultivated in North America to improve the environment for water birds. Pondweeds are a significant food source for water birds, especially Potamogeton pectinatus with underground rhizomes and tubers on which birds can feed in winter (Preston, 1995). Potamogeton pectinatus has been reported to be feed on by Bewick's, mute and whooper swans, coot, wigeon, gadwall, garganey, mallard, pintail, pochard, scaup, shoveler, teal, and the tufted duck (Preston, 1995). As well as food, Potamogeton pectinatus fruits aid grinding in the gizzard of birds (Kantrud, 1990). Loss of pondweeds from Loch Leven due to eutrophication and phytoplankton blooms resulted in a decline in the local populations of mute swan, coot, pochard and wigeon (Jupp & Spence, 1977). Omnivorous water birds probably exploit the invertebrate fauna for food, while flying insects provide food for a variety of birds and predatory insects (Kantrud, 1990; Preston, 1995).


Fennel pondweed is a world renowned food for water birds (Kantrud, 1990). In North America fennel pondweed production has been enhanced to provide food for water birds in wetland areas (Preston, 1995).

Additional information icon Additional information

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This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2002. Potamogeton pectinatus community. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 01/12/2015]. Available from: <>