Western North American Naturalist
Brigham Young University
Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (common reed), already one of the world’s most widespread plant species, has realized rapid range expansion in coastal wetlands of North America in the past century, but little is known about P. australis range expansion in inland wetland systems. We used genetic analyses, aerial photographs, field surveys, and a greenhouse experiment to study the extent and mechanism of nonnative P. australis invasion of Utah wetlands. We collected and genetically analyzed 39 herbarium samples across the state and 225 present-day samples from northern Utah’s major wetland complexes. All samples collected before 1993 and all samples collected outside the major wetlands of northern Utah, including some as recent as 2001, were identified as native (haplotypes A, B, D, and H). Only 10 (4%) of the present-day samples were native, each from small, discrete, low-density stands; the remaining samples were nonnative (haplotype M). Our earliest nonnative sample was collected near the Great Salt Lake in 1993. Around the Great Salt Lake, which contains 40% of Utah’s wetlands, P. australis cover has increased from 20% to 56% over the past 27 years—an increase that appears attributable to the nonnative strain. In a 3-month-long greenhouse experiment, the nonnative haplotype grew taller, had more aboveground biomass, and had a greater above- to belowground biomass ratio than the native haplotypes regardless of nitrogen, phosphorus, or water availability. Nonnative P. australis is rapidly invading the wetlands of northern Utah. Areas in Utah where the native P. australis remains should be identified and protected.
Kulmatiski, A., Beard, K. H., Meyerson, L. A., Gibson, J. R., & Mock, K. E. (2010). Nonnative Phragmites australis Invasion into Utah Wetlands. Western North American Naturalist, 70(4), 541-552. doi:10.3398/064.070.0414