The Effect of the Eradication of Phragmites Australis on Wildlife Species Activity. Abstract
The Effect of the Eradication of Phragmites Australis on Wildlife Species Activity
What is Phragmites australis? Phragmites australis is an invasive plant species found on the wetlands. It can grow as high as 6 meters. Phragmites can grow by planting seeds, but it mainly grows asexually. Phragmites is a perennial grass. There are many bad affects as there are good effects of Phragmites. “Phragmites australis invasion alters the structure and function of diverse marsh ecosystems by changing species composition, nutrient cycles and hydrological regimes” (Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program). There are some recreational problems with Phragmites Australis. The vegetation of Phragmites can pierce skin. Also, it’s known to lower the amount of native fish and wildlife. There are also biological problems involved with Phragmites Australis. Saltmarsh-dependent wildlife depend on food and shelter provided by the salt marsh; phragmites cuts out the native salt marsh vegetation and there is very little shelter. “Phragmites can also eliminate small intertidal channels and obliterate pool habitat that offers natural refuge and feeding grounds for invertebrates, fish and waterbirds.”Marsh animals are used to such things as cattails, the phragmites makes it hard for the birds to fly through and for the travel of marsh animals. With a higher surface elevation there is less saltwater flooding; with the reduction of the saltwater flooding there is less vital nutrients provided to the native marsh plants and animals. With all the negative, there is good in Phragmites australis. For instance, some species of birds like the red-winged blackbird and some wading birds are known to nest in Phragmites. Birds use such things as culm, leaf, or inflorescence material for their nests. Some of the wildlife species present in Cove River includes: ducks, blackbirds, crows and hawks. What’s being observed? Observed in this project/experiment is the wildlife activity present in Cove River after treatment of Phragmites australis. Also being observed is the variety of species present in Cove River.
Whether Phragmites affects animal life in the area cannot for sure be determined. Unfortunately, this is the first year data is being collected of animal species after the Phragmites has been treated. There is no data from before treatment. A lot of the wildlife species present in this area consists of birds. In the winter, birds migrate so there was not much activity happening in the winter. There was activity going on in the fall; A lot of birds were present, mostly blackbirds. There was much activity occurring in the spring. All the birds were back from migration and a variety of species were observed. Although there is no data to be compared, it seems that there is much activity after the treatment of Phragmites. As stated in the abstract, some birds, including the red-winged blackbird use the Phragmites australis for nesting. It’s hard to determine whether the birds are coming around because the Phragmites australis was eradicated or if the birds are just nesting there. As stated as before, the activity of wildlife was not recorded before Phragmites or when it was first planted. Going forward, other students can continue this experiment to see if the wildlife activity continues to increase and the variety of species continues to grow as the years go on.
Two pictures of ducks in Cove River. These pictures were taken on 4/4/2014.
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Taken back in the fall of 2013, this is the nest of a blackbird(s). Many nests were formed high up in trees.