A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submergent, or floating. In lakes macrophytes provide cover for fish and substrate for aquatic invertebrates, produce oxygen, and act as food for some fish and wildlife.
A decline in a macrophyte population may indicate water quality problems. Such problems may be the result of excessive turbidity, herbicides, or salinization. Conversely, overly high nutrient levels may create an overabundance of macrophytes, which may in turn interfere with lake processing.
Monitoring macrophyte levels are easy to sample, do not require laboratory analysis, and are easily used for calculating simple abundance metrics.