Does Phragmites Growth Have a Limit?

March 23, 2010

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.