Macrophytes / Lake Surveys

Macrophytes are plants that live in and by water that can be seen with the naked eye. Macrophytes form an important constituent of lake systems. A macrophyte may be an emergent, submerged or floating type of aquatic plant. Macrophytes provide cover and a substrate for fish and aquatic invertebrates, as well as producing oxygen and a food source for fish and other species. Macrophytes are known to respond to a variety of different environmental factors, which makes them ideal as indicators for assessing the status and quality of lakes.

There are a number of different methodologies for lake macrophyte surveys, the main methodology being the JNCC lake macrophyte survey methodology that comprises surveying 100 m sectors around the perimeter of a lake shore, including wader transects running into the water sampling four points up to 75 cm depth, and boat transects from the deepest depth macrophytes are recorded to the shore. A full macrophyte survey usually comprises four stages: the initial study to ascertain how and where the survey is to be undertaken, the survey of the chosen lake stretches, the data collation and an analysis of the data.

To undertake macrophyte surveys, surveyors should be experienced in lake macrophytes, as a number of macrophyte groups, such as Callitriche, Potamogeton and Ranunculus, have species that are difficult to identify, which are critical in the assessment of lake status.

Lake macrophyte surveys have been used for a variety of projects and conservation objectives, with one of the main conservation objectives being assessments for the Water Framework Directive. They can be used to assess lake status for projects, such as a proposed construction project, that may have an impact on a lake.

OpenSpace have staff experienced in Lake Macrophyte Surveys. Our senior ecologist has obtained a licence for Luronium natans from Natural England. If you require such a survey, then call us on 01228 711841 or email

Updated April 2017