Research: managing invasive species in restorations

Invasive species issues are central to ecological restoration worldwide. Reversing invasive species spread is a common motivation for restoration and the outcome of many projects depends on adequate control throughout the restoration process. Our lab has worked on several wetland invasive species, notably reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Our work currently focuses on common reed (Phragmites australis).

Phragmites is adversely affecting riverine, coastal, and other wetlands throughout North America. On the central Platte River (Nebraska) we studied seed and rhizome ecology, hoping to find new non-chemical options for control. Repeated aerial application of herbicides in (glyphosate and imazapyr) is often used to control Phragmites but these methods have significant non-target impacts on native species. We learned that water level management can reduce common reed germination by as much as 60% (Galatowitsch et al. 2016).

In 2017, we began studies of Phragmites spread in Minnesota (with Dan Larkin’s group). The species  appears to be spreading from initial points of introduction.

Recent publications:

Galatowitsch, S., D. Larson, and J. Larson.  2016. Factors affecting post-control reinvasion by seed of an invasive species, Phragmites australis, in the central Platte River, Nebraska. Biological Invasions, 18: 1-12.

Larson, D., S. Galatowitsch, and J. Larson. 2011. Native and European haplotypes of Phragmites australis in the Platte River, Nebraska. Great Plains Research 21: 175-180.

Platte River