Causes of the dieback of littoral stands in an overpopulated water bird reserve: Role of eutrophication, fish and gees


  • Richard Svidenský Faculty of Agriculture, University of South Bohemia, Studentská 1668, CZ-37005 České Budějovice
  • Andrea Kučerová
  • Hana Čížková University of South Bohemia



carp, grazing damage, fishpond, sediment, Typha angustifolia, nature reserve


European fishponds can serve as refuges for water birds if the fish stocks are limited, but the effects of other ecological factors on their ecological stability are rarely considered. The aim of this study is to determine the causes of marked dieback of littoral stands dominated by Typha angustifolia L. in a hypertrophic fishpond that is also a valuable water bird reserve. A field study and two experiments were conducted in order to separate the effects of mineral nutrient availability, redox conditions, fish and water birds. The physico-chemical characteristics of the water and sediments confirmed hypertrophic conditions in the fishpond, but a mesocosm experiment did not indicate it had a negative effect on plant growth. On the other hand, a field enclosure experiment showed that in sparse stands, unfenced parts had a significantly smaller shoot density than fenced parts. This was attributed to grazing by greylag geese (Anser anser L.). In addition, damage to belowground parts of plants were ascribed to large individuals of albeit a few large common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). This study highlights a conservation dilemma as large numbers of geese destroy littoral stands in fishpond nature reserves, which then become unsuitable nesting sites for other species of water birds.