Pistia stratiotes native distribution is uncertain, but probably pantropical; it was first discovered from the Nile near Lake Victoria in Africa. It is now present, either naturally or through human introduction, in nearly all tropical and subtropical fresh waterways. The growth habit can make it a weed in waterways. It has the potential to reduce the biodiversity of a waterway. Mats of Pistia stratiotes block gas exchange at the air-water interface, reducing the oxygen in the water and killing fish. They also block light, killing native submerged plants and alter immersed plant communities by crushing them.