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Native Plant Recovery following Three Years of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) Control

  • Christopher L. Zimmerman (a1), Rebecca R. Shirer (a2) and Jeffrey D. Corbin (a3)


Projects that aim to control invasive species often assume that a reduction of the target species will increase native species abundance. However, reports of the responses of native species following exotic species control are relatively rare. We assessed the recovery of the native community in five tidal wetland locations in which we attempted to eradicate the invasive common reed [Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.]. We tested whether 3 yr of treatment were able to eradicate Phragmites and promote recovery of the native plant community. After 3 yr of treatment, Phragmites density declined sharply in all treated stands, though it was not eradicated in any of them. Native plant cover increased significantly in treated areas, and community composition, particularly in smaller stands, converged toward that of uninvaded habitat. Thus, even within the relatively short timescale of the treatments and monitoring, significant progress was made toward achieving the goals of controlling Phragmites infestations and promoting native biodiversity. There was a trend toward greater promise for success in smaller stands than larger stands, as has been observed in other studies. A greater emphasis on monitoring whole-community responses to exotic plant control, across a range of conditions, would enhance our ability to plan and design successful management strategies.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Christopher L. Zimmerman, The Nature Conservancy, New York Division, 195 New Karner Road, Suite 201, Albany, NY 12205. (Email:


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Native Plant Recovery following Three Years of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) Control

  • Christopher L. Zimmerman (a1), Rebecca R. Shirer (a2) and Jeffrey D. Corbin (a3)


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