Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 2497–2504 | Cite as

Microsatellite analysis to estimate realized dispersal distance in Phragmites australis

  • Melissa K. McCormick
  • Hope E. A. Brooks
  • Dennis F. Whigham
Phragmites Invasion


An understanding of the mean and maximum dispersal distances of target species and subsequent scaling of management efforts to dispersal distance can be key in slowing, containing, or eradicating invasive species. However, dispersal distance is often difficult to measure. Patterns of genetic relatedness can be interpreted to understand realized genetic dispersal distances, which can then be applied to management. We analyzed patterns of microsatellite relatedness using Mantel correlograms and used them to estimate realized dispersal distance for the invasive wetland grass, Phragmites australis. We found that genetic relatedness declined quickly with increasing distance, decreasing to the level of the mean subestuary genetic relatedness by 100 m and to nearly zero by 500 m. We interpret this to indicate that most dispersal is <100 m and very little dispersal extends beyond 500 m. This suggests that management of P. australis may need to consider dispersal from stands up to 500 m from an area that is being managed, perhaps at the scale of whole subestuaries. Results of this study demonstrate that analysis of dispersal patterns can be used to develop landscape-scale approaches to the management of invasive species.


Phragmites australis Dispersal distance Genetic relatedness Mantel correlogram 



We thank Wesley Hauser, Liza McFarland, and Eric Hazelton for help collecting data, the American Chestnut Land Trust for access to Parkers Creek, and the Smithsonian Laboratory of Analytical Biology for running microsatellite samples. This work was supported by award number NA09NOS4780214 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA

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