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Phragmites is usually an indicator of a wetland ecosystem that is out of balance. JOHN DANKOSKY: Barbara Moran is environmental editor at WBUR in Boston. BARBARA MORAN: Exactly. So these are a couple sort of maybe pluses for this invasive species that people are starting to sort of look at this plant a little differently. Davidson is quick to say that his research doesn’t advocate removing native plants in favor of Phragmites. It competes for things like our golden rod, which is important food for migrating monarch butterflies. Once it has become established, removal by hand is nearly impossible. And the questions have been arising for the past couple of years about whether phragmites might– might actually provide some useful, you know, what they call ecosystem services, especially with growing concerns about climate change. } Invasive non-native Phragmites australis is a perennial wetland plant that has quickly spread through Michigan marshes and wetland areas, robbing the fish, plants and wildlife of nutrients and space; blocking access to the water for swimming, fishing and other recreation endeavors; spoiling shoreline … Looking for our services? “That paper was very interesting,” says Anne Giblin, a senior scientist and interim director of the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Phragmites gives off methane, a potent greenhouse gas. “[Carbon storage] is one factor that should be considered among many when managers are trying to make decisions about how to help the system function.”. In America, not all phragmites are a problem. In our first article we discuss how Phragmites affects waterfront owner property values and related local ecosystems, our second article discusses how the presence of Phragmites increase liabilities of fires and flooding. And we’re really going to have to start looking at things in a different way as we go forward maybe. In this article we will take a look at the invasive plants and Phragmites plant habits; what makes it invasive and why that is a problem in Michigan. He grabs a Phragmites root with both hands, leans back and pulls with all his might. Why is Phragmites a problem? In our area there are two species of Phragmites; northeast native and invasive both of which exhibit nuisance properties. And it’s choking out life in the wetland. Phragmites australis subsp. But now there’s some questions about whether or not we should just leave those phragmites in place. The flowers grow as dense branched clusters on the end of each stem that are open and feathery at maturity. A major problem with phragmites is that it will continue to expand throughout the wetland. The presence of Phragmites, therefore, cannot only impact the quality of our environment but also the quality of our life style, which in these cases are inextricably linked. Phragmites australis. Taxonomy. “Is that the right approach to take, or should we be doing something to reduce our carbon footprint?”. Why is it a problem? World climate change is advancing more quickly than expected. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. Here with that story now is Barbara Moran, environmental editor at WBUR in Boston. Hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders all enjoy well-maintained trails, and invasive plants can grow over trails to the point that the path cannot be followed or can be difficult to navigate. Around him towers a stand of bushy-topped Phragmites australis, an invasive plant commonly known as the common reed. It’s funny because it’s actually kind of a pretty plant. Phragmites isn’t going anywhere. Phragmites can be an indicator that a wetland ecosystem is out of balance. The phragmites natural habitat is Eurasia, usually in ditches, low standing water, and it can survive in dry land as well. Invasive plants can also increase the risk of flooding and soil erosion leading to cloudy water, lower water quality, and silted spawning beds. Phragmites are allelopathic, which means that they release toxins from their roots that impede the growth of other plants. Although scattered clumps of phragmites provides cover for small mammals and birds, it usually forms large, dense stands that provide little value for wildlife. This information is for educational purposes only. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. So there’s been a long campaign to get rid of phragmites across New England and elsewhere in marshy areas. MNFI says that early recognition is critical because the plant stores energy underground in its extensive network of rhizomes; the older it is, the harder it is to control. But he doesn’t want to use it to combat climate change. Fidelity to the original aired/published audio or video file might vary, and text might be updated or amended in the future. She’s been studying salt marshes for Mass Audubon for more than two decades. callback: callback “There’s fairly universal agreement that we should try to reduce and prevent invasions as much as we can. Back on the marsh, Mass. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). JOHN DANKOSKY: Yeah, local science stories of national significance– a New England salt marsh can certainly seem like a bucolic spot with those bushy reeds dotting the landscape. This can lead to greater rates of sediments deposition which can increase the elevation of invaded marshes and affect drainage, leading invaded marshes to slowly become drier, in turn, causing further changes in the remn… The GLRI Phragmites Decision Support Tool (DST) Mapper is intended to provide resource managers with information to strategically develop effective Phragmites control and invasion prevention programs in the Great Lakes coastal zone (10 km inland from the shoreline). Phragmites turns rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a thriving ecosystem. }); Jeffrey W. Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. BARBARA MORAN: Yeah, this is really interesting. americanus. What are they finding? })(); Barbara Moran is an environmental editor at WBUR, in Boston, Massachusetts. if (!window.mc4wp) { A recent study from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center found that the very traits that make Phragmites a tough invader—larger plants, deeper roots, higher density—enable it to store more carbon in marshy peat. But Phragmites may offer another advantage in the face of climate change—since it builds up so much, it can buffer marshes against sea level rise and storm surges. Connect with Nature: Sign up for the “Conservation Talk” webinar series. That’s what Buchsbaum is kneeling in the mud at Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary to demonstrate. Or they try flooding it. Audubon, the state, the National Park Service and many other groups have active programs to combat it. Invasive Phragmites is a perennial grass that has been damaging ecosystems in Ontario for decades. MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES . It is common in disturbed areas and can tolerate brackish waters, dry conditions and alkaline to acidic conditions. And she really laid out the case for why we should be getting rid of phragmites. According to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), there are two subspecies of Phragmites australis present in Michigan. After applying Rodeo herbicide you should start to see results within 2 to 4 days and within 7 to 10 days your Phragmites problem should disappear. A study came out of the Smithsonian last fall by a scientist named Ian Davidson. For the authoritative record of Science Friday’s programming, please visit the original aired/published recording. This segment is part of the The State Of Science spotlight. They are a sizable perpetual grass that embody dense sands and congregate most native plants. Copyright © 2019 Science Friday Initiative. Nothing. Unbelievable height a nuisance around lakes and ponds. JOHN DANKOSKY: So this is why people have been trying to get rid of them for years. It now threatens Florida. He also works with public radio collaboratives, and hosts “Steady Habits”—a podcast the digital news service, The Connecticut Mirror. The Mapper consists of three integrated components: A distribution map of large (> 0.2 ha) stands of existing Phragmites. View a summary of techniques below. A version of this story, by Barbara Moran, originally appeared on WBUR in Boston. His study is one of the more recent to look at the differences in carbon storage between native and invasive coastal species. It can invades lake shores, river banks, & roadways; It can alter hydrology and wildlife habitat; Spreads from root fragments, seeds, cut stems, & above ground runners This guide provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service … John Dankosky is a contributing editor with Science Friday, and occasional guest host. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. So I should say it’s also phragmites is really, really hard to kill. But where the invader has already won, or has overtaken a mudflat or brownfield, some think it may best be left alone. MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. How does Phragmites spread? window.mc4wp = { Hi, there, Barbara. But it’s sort of public enemy number one as far as invasive species in marshes. The plant ranges in height from 6-13 feet. He also works with public radio collaboratives, and hosts “Steady Habits”—a podcast the digital news service, The Connecticut Mirror. Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Phragmites forms massive monocultures in otherwise biologically diverse natural wetlands. Rosa multiflora at left, Phragmites australis at right, May 3, 2012. And they’re not quite there yet. Invasive non-native Phragmites australis is a perennial wetland plant that has quickly spread through Michigan marshes and wetland areas, robbing the fish, plants and wildlife of nutrients and space; blocking access to the water for swimming, fishing and other recreation endeavors; spoiling shoreline views; and posing a fire hazard. Why? Phragmites grows readily in disturbed wetland areas, such as degraded salt and freshwater marshes and swamps, along streams, lakes, ponds and roadside ditches. Scientific names: Arundo phragmites; A. australis; P. communis; Ecological threat. But if nothing else, the phragmites research is helping to raise awareness of the problem. The European species of phragmites is extremely invasive. Katie Feather is an associate producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie. Phragmites forms incredibly dense stands and can grow to a height of 15 feet. While it may appear that the plume-topped Phragmites australis is just another pretty face in Michigan’s wetland landscape, this member of the grass family can be bad news for our local marshes. These ecotourism activities, support local economies across the Great Lakes basin, providing jobs for local citizens and tax base to support important government services on which many people rely. “You need to keep after it, and you’re going to be doing it forever.”. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recommends controlling the invasive Phragmites by using an integrated pest management approach which includes an initial herbicide treatment followed by mechanical removal (e.g., cutting, mowing) and annual maintenance. About. In Wisconsin, invasive phragmites can be found along shorelines of lakes, exposed lake beds, marshes, streams, swamps, rivers, roadside ditches, heavily disturbed sites and other low, wet areas. is a contributing editor with Science Friday, and occasional guest host. Saltonstall, K. 2002. event : event, And it may mean opening our minds to some of our old enemies. So there’s definitely disadvantages for having the phragmites around. When phragmites sheds its lower leaves, or has overtaken a mudflat brownfield! Laid out the native phragmites australis, an invasive plant Network, invasive plants can affect your ability enjoy! We have right now, ” says Buchsbaum Michigan wetlands—and not for the authoritative of... Growth and slow decomposition of above-ground biomass leads to large accumulations of organic over... Plant phragmites, removal by hand is nearly impossible change why is phragmites a problem forward, carbon storage becomes a part. 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