, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 725–734 | Cite as

Water-Use Dynamics of an Invasive Reed, Arundo donax, from Leaf to Stand



We investigated water use of an invasive riparian reed species, Arundo donax (L.), along moisture gradients to determine how extensively this plant might affect water resources. On an approximately 250 m stretch of the Lower Rio Grande in South Texas, we measured the gas exchange of water vapor at the leaf scale and structural characteristics, such as leaf area and shoot density, at the stand scale. To assess the effect of water availability, we used transects perpendicular to the edge of the river along a potential moisture gradient. Stands of A. donax used approximately 8.8 ± 0.9 mm of water per day during the peak of the 2008 growing season; this rate of water use is at the high end of the spectrum for plants. Transpiration and leaf area index varied with water availability, which suggests this plant is sensitive to drought and declining water tables. This provides a baseline for future studies comparing water use between A. donax and other plant species, especially native species considered in riparian restoration efforts.


Ecohydrology Ecophysiology Giant reed Invasive species Riparian vegetation Scaling 



Funding for this project was provided by the Rio Grande Basin Initiative via the United States Department of Agriculture under Agreement No. 2005-34461-15661 and Agreement No. 2005-45049-03209 and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service via the Arundo Biological Control Program. We are grateful to John Goolsby for technical assistance and for providing housing at Moore Air Base, Tom Boutton for use of the Stable Isotope Lab, and to Laura Martin and Kira Zhaurova for assisting with data collection.


  1. Abissy M, Mandi L (1999) The use of rooted aquatic plants for urban wastewater treatment: case of Arundo donax. Revue des Sciences de l’Eau 12:285–315Google Scholar
  2. Angelini LG, Ceccarini L, Bonari E (2005) Biomass yield and energy balance of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) cropped in central Italy as related to different management practices. European Journal of Agronomy 22:375–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baldocchi DD, Luxmoore RJ, Hatfield JL (1991) Discerning the forest from the trees: an essay on scaling canopy stomatal conductance. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 54:197–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baldocchi D, Valentini R, Running S, Oechel W, Dahlman R (1996) Strategies for measuring and modelling carbon dioxide and water vapour fluxes over terrestrial ecosystems. Global Change Biology 2:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batty L, Baker A, Wheeler B (2006) The effect of vegetation on porewater composition in a natural wetland receiving acid mine drainage. Wetlands 26:40–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bell GP (1997) Ecology and management of Arundo donax, and approaches to riparian habitat restoration in southern California. In: Brock JH, Wade M, Pysek P, Green D (eds) Plant invasions: studies from North America and Europe. Backhuys, the Netherlands, pp 103–113Google Scholar
  7. Belnap J, Phillips SL, Sherrod SK, Moldenke A (2005) Soil biota can change after exotic plant invasion: does this affect ecosystem processes? Ecology 86:3007–3017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boose AB, Holt JS (1999) Environmental effects on asexual reproduction in Arundo donax. Weed Research 39:117–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burba GG, Verma SB, Kim J (1999a) A comparative study of surface energy fluxes of three communities (Phragmites australis, Scirpus acutus, and open water) in a prairie wetland ecosystem. Wetlands 19:451–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burba GG, Verma SB, Kim J (1999b) Surface energy fluxes of Phragmites australis in a prairie wetland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 94:31–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cleverly JR, Dahm CN, Thibault JR, Gilroy DJ, Coonrod JEA (2002) Seasonal estimates of actual evapo-transpiration from Tamarix ramosissima stands using three-dimensional eddy covariance. Journal of Arid Environments 52:181–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cleverly JR, Dahm CN, Thibault JR, McDonnell DE, Coonrod JEA (2006) Riparian ecohydrology: regulation of water flux from the ground to the atmosphere in the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico. Hydrological Processes 20:3207–3225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clinton SM, Edwards RT, Naiman RJ (2002) Forest-river interactions: influence on hyporheic dissolved organic carbon concentrations in a floodplain terrace. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 38:619–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. D’Antonio CM, Dudley TI, Mack M (1999) Disturbance and biological invasions: direct effects and feedbacks. In: Walker LR (ed) Ecosystems of disturbed ground. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 413–452Google Scholar
  15. Dahm CN, Cleverly JR, Coonrod JEA, Thibault JR, McDonnell DE, Gilroy DF (2002) Evapotranspiration at the land/water interface in a semi-arid drainage basin. Freshwater Biology 47:831–843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dall’O’ M, Kluge W, Bartels F (2001) FEUWAnet: a multi-box water level and lateral exchange model for riparian wetland. Journal of Hydrology 250:40–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dang QL, Margolis HA, Sy M, Coyea MR, Collatz GJ, Walthall CL (1997) Profiles of photosynthetically active radiation, nitrogen and photosynthetic capacity in the boreal forest: implications for scaling from leaf to canopy. Journal of Geophysical Research 102:28845–28859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawson TE, Ehleringer JR (1991) Streamside trees that do not use stream water. Nature 350:335–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dawson TE, Mambelli S, Plamboeck AH, Templer PH, Tu KP (2002) Stable isotopes in plant ecology. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 33:507–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Decruyenaere JG, Holt JS (2005) Ramet demography of a clonal invader, Arundo donax (Poaceae), in Southern California. Plant and Soil 277:41–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Devitt DA, Sala A, Smith SD, Cleverly J, Shaulis LK, Hammett R (1998) Bowen ratio estimates of evapotranspiration for Tamarix ramosissima stands on the Virgin River in southern Nevada. Water Resources Research 34:2407–2414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dudley TL (2000) Arundo donax L. In: Bossard CC, Randall JM, Hoshovsky MC (eds) Invasive plants of California’s wildlands. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 53–58Google Scholar
  23. Dukes JS, Mooney HA (2004) Disruption of ecosystem processes in western North America by invasive species. Revista Chilena De Historia Natural 77:411–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ehleringer JR, Hall AE, Farquhar GD (1993) Stable isotopes and plant carbon-water relations. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  25. Fermor PM, Hedges PD, Gilbert JC, Gowing DJG (2001) Reedbed evapotranspiration rates in England. Hydrological Processes 15:621–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Franks PJ, Drake PL, Froend RH (2007) Anisohydric but isohydrodynamic: seasonally constant plant water potential gradient explained by a stomatal control mechanism incorporating variable plant hydraulic conductance. Plant, Cell & Environment 30:19–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Goulden ML, Litvak M, Miller SD (2007) Factors that control Typha marsh evapotranspiration. Aquatic Botany 86:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Herbst M, Kappen L (1999) The ratio of transpiration versus evaporation in a reed belt as influenced by weather conditions. Aquatic Botany 63:113–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huxman TE, Wilcox BP, Breshears DD, Scott RL, Snyder KA, Small EE, Hultine K, Pockman WT, Jackson RB (2005) Ecohydrological implications of woody plant encroachment. Ecology 86:308–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Iverson M (1998) Effects of Arundo donax on water resources. CalEPPC News. California Exotic Pest Plant Council, Trabuco Canyon, p 10Google Scholar
  31. Jackson RB, Caldwell MM (1993) The scale of nutrient heterogeneity around individual plants and its quantification with geostatistics. Ecology 74:612–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jackson RB, Manwaring JH, Caldwell MM (1990) Rapid physiological adjustment of roots to localized soil enrichment. Nature 344:58–60PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jarvis PG (1981) Stomatal conductance, gaseous exchange and transpiration. In: Grace J, Ford ED, Jarvis PG (eds) Plants and their atmospheric environment: the 21st symposium of the British Ecological Society. Blackwell Scientific, Edinburgh, pp 175–203Google Scholar
  34. Joris I, Feyen J (2003) Modelling water flow and seasonal soil moisture dynamics in an alluvial groundwater-fed wetland. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 7:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Katz GL, Shafroth PB (2003) Biology, ecology and management of Elaeagnus angustifolia L. (Russian olive) in western North America. Wetlands 23:763–777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kemp PR, Reynolds JF, Pachepsky Y, Chen JL (1997) A comparative modeling study of soil water dynamics in a desert ecosystem. Water Resources Research 33:73–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kleinhenz V, Midmore DJ (2001) Aspects of bamboo agronomy. In: Sparks DL (ed) Advances in agronomy. Academic, San Diego, pp 99–154Google Scholar
  38. Lau JA (2008) Beyond the ecological: biological invasions alter natural selection on a native plant species. Ecology 89:1023–1031PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levin SA (1992) The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73:1943–1967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lissner J, Schierup H-H, Comín FA, Astorga V (1999) Effect of climate on the salt tolerance of two Phragmites australis populations. II. Diurnal CO2 exchange and transpiration. Aquatic Botany 64:335–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lonard RI, Judd FW (2002) Riparian vegetation of the lower Rio Grande. The Southwestern Naturalist 47:420–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meinzer FC, Grantz DA (1989) Stomatal control of transpiration from a developing sugarcane canopy. Plant, Cell & Environment 12:635–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meinzer FC, Goldstein G, Jackson P, Holbrook NM, Gutierrez MV, Cavelier J (1995) Environmental and physiological regulation of transpiration in tropical forest gap species: the influence of boundary layer and hydraulic properties. Oecologia 101:514–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Milton SJ (2004) Grasses as invasive alien plants in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 100:69–75Google Scholar
  45. Mommer L, Lenssen JPM, Huber H, Visser EJW, De Kroon H (2006) Ecophysiological determinants of plant performance under flooding: a comparative study of seven plant families. Journal of Ecology 94:1117–1129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moro MJ, Domingo F, Lopez G (2004) Seasonal transpiration pattern of Phragmites australis in a wetland of semi-arid Spain. Hydrological Processes 18:213–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nagler PL, Glenn EP, Thompson TL (2003) Comparison of transpiration rates among saltcedar, cottonwood and willow trees by sap flow and canopy temperature methods. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 116:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nagler PL, Glenn EP, Didan K, Osterberg J, Jordan F, Cunningham J (2008) Wide-area estimates of stand structure and water use of Tamarix spp. on the Lower Colorado River: implications for restoration and water management projects. Restoration Ecology 16:136–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Niinemets U (2007) Photosynthesis and resource distribution through plant canopies. Plant, Cell & Environment 30:1052–1071CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Owens MK, Moore GW (2007) Saltcedar water use: realistic and unrealistic expectations. Rangeland Ecology and Management 60:553–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Papazoglou EG, Karantounias GA, Vemmos SN, Bouranis DL (2005) Photosynthesis and growth responses of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) to the heavy metals Cd and Ni. Environment International 31:243–249PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Parker IM, Simberloff D, Lonsdale WM, Goodell K, Wonham M, Kareiva PM, Williamson MH, Von Holle B, Moyle PB, Byers JE, Goldwasser L (1999) Impact: toward a framework for understanding the ecological effects of invaders. Biological Invasions 1:3–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peacock CE, Hess TM (2004) Estimating evapotranspiration from a reed bed using the Bowen ratio energy balance method. Hydrological Processes 18:247–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Perdue RE (1958) Arundo donax—source of musical reeds and industrial cellulose. Economic Botany 12:368–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Peterson AG, Chesson P (2002) Short-term fitness benefits of physiological integration in the clonal herb Hydrocotyle peduncularis. Austral Ecology 27:647–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ramírez DA, Valladares F, Blasco A, Bellot J (2006) Assessing transpiration in the tussock grass Stipa tenacissima L.: the crucial role of the interplay between morphology and physiology. Acta Oecologica 30:386–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Richardson DM, van Wilgen BW (2004) Invasive alien plants in South Africa: how well do we understand the ecological impacts? South African Journal of Science 100:45–52Google Scholar
  58. Robertson GP, Huston MA, Evans FC, Tiedje JM (1988) Spatial variability in a successional plant community: patterns of nitrogen availability. Ecology 69:1517–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rowntree KM (1991) An assessment of the potential impact of alien invasive vegetation on the geomorphology of river channels in South Africa. Southern African Journal of Aquatic Sciences 17:28–43Google Scholar
  60. Scott RL, Shuttleworth WJ, Goodrich DC, Maddock T (2000) The water use of two dominant vegetation communities in a semiarid riparian ecosystem. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 105:241–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sharma KP, Kushwaha SPS, Gopal B (1998) A comparative study of stand structure and standing crops of two wetland species, Arundo donax and Phragmites karka, and primary production in Arundo donax with observations on the effect of clipping. Tropical Ecology 39:3–14Google Scholar
  62. Sparks DL, Page AL, Helmke PA, Loeppert RH, Soltanpour PN, Tabatabai MA, Johnston CT, Sumner ME (1996) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3—Chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America—American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  63. Speck O (2003) Field measurements of wind speed and reconfiguration in Arundo donax (Poaceae) with estimates of drag forces. American Journal of Botany 90:1253–1256PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Speck O, Spatz H-C (2004) Damped oscillations of the giant reed Arundo donax (Poaceae). American Journal of Botany 91:789–796PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spencer DF, Ksander GG, Whitehand LC (2005) Spatial and temporal variation in RGR and leaf quality of a clonal riparian plant: Arundo donax. Aquatic Botany 81:27–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Spencer DF, Liow P-S, Chan WK, Ksander GG, Getsinger KD (2006) Estimating Arundo donax shoot biomass. Aquatic Botany 84:272–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Spencer DF, Stocker RK, Liow PS, Whitehand LC, Ksander GG, Fox AM, Everitt JH, Quinn LD (2008) Comparative growth of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) from Florida, Texas, and California. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 46:89–96Google Scholar
  68. Tabacchi E, Lambs L, Guilloy H, Planty-Tabacchi AM, Muller E, Décamps H (2000) Impacts of riparian vegetation on hydrological processes. Hydrological Processes 14:2959–2976CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. TAES (2007) Texas AgriLife Extension Service—Irrigation Technology Center. TexasET Network. Weslaco Center Station. Texas A&M University, College StationGoogle Scholar
  70. Tolk JA, Evett SR, Howell TA (2006) Advection influences on evapotranspiration of alfalfa in a semiarid climate. Agronomy Journal 98:1646–1654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Urbanc-Bercic O, Gaberšcik A (1997) Reed stands in constructed wetlands: “edge effect” and photochemical efficiency of PS II in common reed. Water Science and Technology 35:143–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vitousek PM (1990) Biological invasions and ecosystem processes: towards an integration of population biology and ecosystem studies. Oikos 57:7–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wagner FH, Bretschko G (2003) Riparian trees and flow paths between the hyporheic zone and groundwater in the Oberer Seebach, Austria. International Review of Hydrobiology 88:129–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Walker LR, Smith SD (1997) Impacts of invasive plants on community and ecosystem properties. In: Luken JO, Thieret JW (eds) Assessment and management of plant invasions. Springer, New York, pp 69–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Weis P, Windham L, Burke DJ, Weis JS (2002) Release into the environment of metals by two vascular salt marsh plants. Marine Environmental Research 54:325–329PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wilcox BP (2002) Shrub control and streamflow on rangelands: a process based viewpoint. Journal of Range Management 55:318–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wilcox BP, Thurow TL (2006) Emerging issues in rangeland ecohydrology: vegetation change and the water cycle. Rangeland Ecology and Management 59:220–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Williams D, Thompson CM, Jacobs JL (1977) Soil survey of Cameron County, Texas. United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Government Printing Office, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  79. Williams DG, Scott RL, Huxman TE, Goodrich DC, Lin G (2006) Sensitivity of riparian ecosystems in arid and semiarid environments to moisture pulses. Hydrological Processes 20:3191–3205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Yang C, Goolsby JA, Everitt JH (2009) Mapping giant reed with QuickBird imagery in the Mexican portion of the Rio Grande Basin. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 3:033530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Zhou L, Zhou G (2009) Measurement and modelling of evapotranspiration over a reed (Phragmites australis) marsh in Northeast China. Journal of Hydrology 372:41–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecology Intercollege Graduate Degree ProgramThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, MS 2138Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations