Estuaries and Coasts Vol. 30, p.469-481 (June 2007)
Phragmites australis (common reed) has caused devastating ecological disturbances to tidal marshes, particularly those in the Chesapeake Bay. Studies conducted on Phragmites abundance in the Chesapeake region are generally small-scale. Ryan King and colleagues at Baylor University performed a scaled-up study to determine the effects of urbanization on Phragmites abundance in wetlands in and adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay. By performing vegetation surveys over a large sample area accompanied by geographic and statistical analysis, King et. al. found that Phragmites abundance was markedly higher in areas with greater levels of both urban-suburban and agricultural development suggesting that development is “at least partially responsible for patterns of invasion across the Chesapeake Bay.” Salinity as well as geographic location may also play a role in determining Phragmites’ invasive success in the Chesapeake. The authors encourage further study of development, salinity, and geography in relation to Phragmites growth in coastal wetlands, as Phragmites invasion is indicative of irreversible ecological change in these wetlands.