, Volume 8, Issue 2-3, pp 89-103

A comparison of Phragmites australisin freshwater and brackish marsh environments in North America

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Abstract

This paper compares the available North Americanliterature and data concerning several ecologicalfactors affecting Phragmites australisin inlandfreshwater, tidal fresh, and tidal brackish marshsystems. We compare aboveground productivity, plantspecies diversity, and sediment biogeochemistry; andwe summarize Phragmiteseffects on faunalpopulations in these habitats. These data suggest thatPhragmitesaboveground biomass is higher thanthat of other plant species occurring in the samemarsh system. Available data do not indicate anysignificant difference in the aboveground Phragmitesbiomass between marsh types, nor doesthere appear to be an effect of salinity on height.However, Phragmitesstem density wassignificantly lower in inland non-tidal freshwatermarshes than in tidal marshes, whether fresh orbrackish. Studies of the effects of Phragmiteson plant species richness suggest that Phragmitesdominated sites have lower diversity.Furthermore, Phragmiteseradication infreshwater sites increased plant diversity in allcases. Phragmitesdominated communities appearto have different patterns of nitrogen cyclingcompared to adjacent plant communities. Abovegroundstanding stocks of nitrogen (N) were found to behigher in Phragmitessites compared to thosewithout Phragmites. Porewater ammonium(NH4 +) did not differ among plant covertypes in the freshwater tidal wetlands, but inbrackish marshes NH4 +was much higher inSpartinaspp. than in neighboring Phragmitesstands. Faunal uses of Phragmitesdominated sites in North America were found to vary bytaxa and in some cases equaled or exceeded use ofother robust emergent plant communities. In light ofthese findings, we make recommendations for futureresearch.