, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 2651-2665

Regional differences in the abundance of native, introduced, and hybrid Typha spp. in northeastern North America influence wetland invasions

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In northeastern North America, an important wetland invader is the cattail Typha × glauca, a hybrid of native Typha latifolia and introduced Typha angustifolia. Although intensively studied in localized wetlands around the Great Lakes, the distributions of the hybrid and its parental species across broad spatial scales are poorly known. We obtained genotypes from plants collected from 61 sites spanning two geographical regions. The first region, near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSL), has experienced substantial Typha increases over the last century, whereas more modest increases have occurred in the second region across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine (NSNB). We found that hybrids predominate in the GLSL region, thriving in both disturbed and undisturbed habitats, and are expanding at the expense of both parental species. In contrast, the native T. latifolia is by far the most common of the three taxa across all habitat types in the NSNB region. We found no evidence that the formation of backcrossed and advanced-generation hybrids is limited by the reproductive barriers that are evident in F1 hybrids. However, although backcrossed individuals arise in both regions, they are much less common than F1 hybrids, which may explain why the parental species boundary remains. We conclude that F1 hybrids are playing a key role in the invasion of wetlands in the GLSL region, whereas their low frequency in the NSNB region may explain why Typha appears to be much less invasive further east. An improved understanding of these contrasting patterns of distribution is necessary before we can accurately predict future wetland invasions.