Does Phragmites Growth Have a Limit?

Wetlands 20, 280-299 (2000)

The spread of Phragmites australis, common reed, throughout Gulf and Atlantic Coast marshes has been virtually unstopped since its introduction in the late 1930’s. Because of Phragmites’ rapid spread, in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay, its current distribution and colonization rate is unknown. Dan Rice and colleagues at the University of Maryland used a geographic information system (GIS) to gain greater perspective into Phragmites distribution and colonization in three tidal freshwater and four brackish marshes in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Survey results indicated the presence of Phragmites at all seven sites. Using geometric growth formulas, rates of increase for each Phragmites stand were calculated. Older, more established stands have reached equilibrium while newer stands have increasing rates of growth. Rice et. al.’s results seem to suggest that there are limitations to the spread of Phragmites despite its prolific nature.

One Response to “Does Phragmites Growth Have a Limit?”

  1.   eas50 Says:

    From the information given above, it seems as though Phragmites will eventually reach a carrying capacity for a certain region. However, did the researchers say how long it took for the established strands to (1) become established and (2) reach carrying capacity? Such data are helpful in determining how fast Phragmites becomes established in new environments, as well as how far it can spread. Additionally, are there any known control methods, such as poison, burning, known predators, or commercial/industrial uses? All of the above would stem the tide of this invasive reed and possibly reap the benefits of its spread.