Phragmites in Long Point Coastal Marshes

 Least Bittern ( Ixobrychus exilis ). Credit: R. Bennetts, Public Domain.

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis). Credit: R. Bennetts, Public Domain.

     Capable of creating monocultures in a few years, and of growing over 6 meters high, phragmites (Phragmites australis, common reed) has been spreading around North America. And, since the late 1990s, the coastal marshes in Long Point, Ontario, have had a growing phragmites' population. These marshes, designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves, are important to many marsh-nesting birds, including at-risk species such as the Least Bittern; and the spaces where they nest in the marshes are being taken over by phragmites.

     And graduate students of Dr. Rebecca C. Rooney, Dept. of Biology, University of Waterloo, have examined how plant communities and rates of production and decomposition in invaded, un-invaded and treated marsh habitat; the students also examined how common treatments (herbicide applications, mechanical removal or burning) affect regrowth of desirable, native species.

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