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Effective suppression of established invasive Phragmites australis leads to secondary invasion in a coastal marsh

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2021

Courtney D. Robichaud
Ph.D Candidate, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Rebecca C. Rooney*
Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Author for correspondence: Rebecca Rooney, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ONTN2L 3G1, Canada. (Email:


Invasive species negatively impact vegetation communities. Invasive European common reed [Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. ssp. australis] is rapidly spreading throughout North American wetlands. As such, the suppression of P. australis populations is a goal of many managers, as its removal should provide an opportunity to restore native vegetation communities. In Ontario, managers applied a glyphosate-based herbicide to more than 400 ha of P. australis in ecologically significant coastal marshes, representing the first time this tool was used over standing water to suppress an invasive species in Canada. Using a before–after–control–impact monitoring design, we evaluated the efficacy of glyphosate-based herbicide at removing P. australis along a water-depth gradient and assessed the recovery of the vegetation community for 2 yr after treatment in relation to reference conditions. We found that herbicide suppressed more than 99% of P. australis 1 yr after treatment and worked effectively along the entire water-depth gradient (10 to 48 cm). However, the post-treatment vegetation community remains distinctive from reference marsh 2 yr after treatment. In many plots where P. australis was removed, nonnative European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae L.) is now dominant, likely aided by high lake-water levels.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Weed Science Society of America

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Associate Editor: Ryan M. Wersal, Minnesota State University


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