Original Paper

Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 369-379

First online:

Rapid growth of a Eurasian haplotype of Phragmites australis in a restored brackish marsh in Louisiana, USA

  • Rebecca J. HowardAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center Email author 
  • , Steven E. TravisAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, National Wetlands Research Center
  • , Benjamin A. SikesAffiliated withIAP World Services, National Wetlands Research Center

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Abstract

While numerous studies have documented patterns of invasion by non-indigenous plant species, few have considered the invasive properties of non-native genotypes of native species. Characteristics associated with specific genotypes, such as tolerance to disturbance, may mistakenly be applied to an entire species in the absence of genetic information, which consequently may affect management decisions. We report here on the incidence and growth of an introduced lineage of Phragmites australis in the Gulf of Mexico coastal zone of Louisiana. P. australis was collected from nine separate locations for inclusion in a series of growth experiments. Chloroplast DNA analysis indicated that specimens collected from four locations in the Mississippi River Delta represented the introduced Eurasian haplotype; the remainder represented the gulf coast haplotype. Three distinct genotypes, or clones, were identified within each haplotype via analysis using amplified fragment length polymorphisms, which also revealed reduced genetic diversity of the gulf coast clones compared to the Eurasian clones. Clones of each haplotype were planted along with three other native macrophytes at similar densities in a restored brackish marsh and monitored for growth. After 14 months, the Eurasian haplotype had spread vegetatively to cover about 82% of the experimental plots, more than four times the coverage (18%) of the gulf coast haplotype. Thus, the use of P. australis plantings for wetland restoration should consider the genetic lineage of plants used since our results indicate the potential of the Eurasian haplotype to grow rapidly at newly restored sites. This rapid growth may limit the establishment of more slowly growing native species.

Keywords

AFLP Clonal growth Competitive ability Genetic analysis Genotypic variation Invasive haplotype Phragmites australis Polymerase chain reaction Restored wetland