Invasive plants in restored habitats can alter the system such that restoration goals are not met. Non-native lineages of Phragmites australis (hereafter Phragmites) are invasive in North American wetlands, and their presence can be problematic because of decreased species diversity and altered physicochemical processes. Phragmites is a challenging species for restoration because both native and non-native lineages can co-occur. We documented Phragmites expansion in a brackish marsh in Louisiana, USA that was restored with dredged sediments. Invasive Phragmites clones were inadvertently planted at the site. Phragmites expansion was documented through field measurements and aerial imagery. No growth differences were apparent between lineages during the first growing season. Horizontal expansion of 2.27 ± 0.15 m (mean ± 1SE) 5 months after planting occurred through rhizome growth. Seven years after planting, three patches with a combined aerial cover of about 0.7 ha were delineated. The study verified that Phragmites can grow relatively rapidly and persist on dredged sediments. Long-term rapid growth of invasive Phragmites may be a positive attribute in areas subject to high erosion and subsidence rates, despite reductions in species diversity. Acceptability of the presence of invasive Phragmites will depend on restoration goals.
Additional publication details
Phragmites australis expansion in a restored brackish marsh: documentation at different time scales