An investigation of certain waterfowl food plants and a botanical survey of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Princess Anne County, Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute


The vegetation characteristic of the Back Bay area is largely Austroripariam. On the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge about 330 species and varieties of 198 genera from 76 families were found.

Of these plants, five are important submerged aquatic water-fowl foods and twenty-four are emergent or marsh food species.

The present production of submerged waterfowl food plants is much below the potential for the area, though somewhat greater than in past years.

The factor now most responsible for this limited growth is turbidity of the water.

The chief cause of turbidity is wave action due to wind. The action of carp is a secondary cause.

In the view of the extreme difficulties and expenses of controlling turbidity, no management practices can be recommended for increasing the growth of submerged aquatics other than continued prevention of pollution and maintenance of as low a carp population as possible.

Marsh management, on the other hand, is thought to offer good possibilities for benefitting waterfowl conditions on the area. Therefore, it is believed that any management efforts to improve waterfowl food plant conditions on Back Bay can be more profitably applied to marsh and emergent species than to submerged aquatic species.