Differences in macrophyte community composition in a chronosequence of spatially separated dune ponds near the south shore of Lake Michigan were examined and related to environmental variables. Five ponds from each of five pond rows were sampled. In each pond, the cover of each plant species and water and sediment depth were sampled using a stratified random design. Radiocarbon dates were obtained from selected ponds. Ordination of the vegetation data by detrended correspondence analysis revealed similarities in the plant communities of ponds in the same row and community differences between ponds in different rows. Younger ponds (<300 years) were dominated by Chara spp. and Najas flexilis, middle-age ponds (2100 years) by Myriophyllum spp. and Nymphaea tuberosa, and older ponds (3000 years) by Typha angustifolia. Distribution of macrophyte communities was most closely correlated with water depth, which generally decreased with increasing age of the pond row. Some sediment chemistry differences were found between pond rows, but there were no significant differences in water chemistry. Although a linear succession pattern is suggested, we think that anthropogenic disturbance played a major role in determining the vegetation differences observed. Thus, a chronosequence of spatially separated ponds can provide valuable information on hydrarch succession, but it may be misleading and actually represent succession affected by disturbance history.
Wilcox, Douglas A. and Simonin, Howard A., "A Chronosequence of Aquatic Macrophyte Communities in Dune Ponds." (1987). Environmental Science and Ecology Faculty Publications. 32.