Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Watershed Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Karin Kettenring

Abstract

Non-native invasive plant species can often have negative effects on native ecosystems, such as altered nutrient cycling, decreased habitat for wildlife, and outcompeting native plants. Around the Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah, the invasive wetland grass Phragmites australis has become abundant in wetlands around the lake. Phragmites is replacing many native wetland plants provide important waterfowl habitat around the GSL. For successful management of Phragmites in GSL wetlands, it is important to know the current distribution of Phragmites, as well as areas that might be vulnerable to future invasion by Phragmites. To do this, we used multispectral aerial imagery to map the current distribution of Phragmites. We then created a model that statistically related the Phragmites distribution data to a suite of environmental predictor variables such as salinity, proximity to nutrient sources, or proximity to roads. Results from our model suggest that Phragmites is more likely to be found in wetland areas close to point sources of pollution, with lower elevations with prolonged inundation, and with moderate salinities. We used these results to identify areas around GSL that might be vulnerable to future invasion. Results from our study will assist wetlands managers in prioritizing areas for Phragmites monitoring and control by closely monitoring areas of prime Phragmites habitat.

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