, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 436–443 | Cite as

The role of large rhizome dispersal and low salinity windows in the establishment of common reed,Phragmites australis, in salt marshes: New links to human activities

  • David Bart
  • Jean Marie Hartman


In spite of its long history,Phragmites australis’ (Cav.) Trin ex Stuedel invasion in tidal marshes defies explanation. Initial establishment in these systems is particularly perplexing, because seedlings and rhizome fragments do not perform well in poorly drained saline environments. We tested the possibility that dispersal and burial of large rhizomes, periods of low salinity, and localized, well-drained areas facilitate initial establishment in brackish marshes. In a greenhouse we exposed large and small rhizomes to two drainage treatments: mimics of poorly-drained, high marsh interiors and mimics of well-drained, mosquito ditch banks. In well-drained treatments we exposed rhizomes to one of three salinity treatments: fresh, natural salinity regime of an invaded brackish water marsh, and a 2-wk freshwater window followed by a natural salinity regime. Small rhizone fragments did not emerge in saline treatments or treatments with high water tables, while emergence was spotty in well-drained freshwater treatments. Large rhizomes emerged only in well-drained, treatments. For large rhizomes, growth, survival, and clonal spread decreased when exposed to the natural salinity regime, but improved with exposure to the 2-wk freshwater window. These results suggest that dispersal and burial of larger rhizomes, well-drained features, and low salinity windows following dispersal improve the chances of successful establishment. These results help explain case-specific historical links between establishment and such human activities as hydrological alterations, construction activities, and lowered salinity.


Salt Marsh Tide Creek Tidal Marsh High Marsh Aquatic Botany 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, RutgersThe State University of New JerseyNew Brunswick

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