A review of the ecological effects of European Common Reed (Phragmites australis) on fishes and fish habitat in North America

Emillie Elizabeth Rose


The invasive European Common Reed (Phragmites australis), first established in North America in the early 1900’s, is now a dominant emergent aquatic plant in many coastal and inland wetlands. A review of the literature was conducted to evaluate the extent of ecological impacts on fishes and their habitat, such as changes in the composition and abundance of native fishes and wetland plants, and alterations to water availability and substrate. The review indicated that a reduction in the abundance of native fishes was common (54.54% of studies), as were impacts to fish habitat (e.g., 54.54% of studies documented a change in wetland plant composition). Many studies were conducted in the eastern and northern United States, which showed that the abundance of juvenile and larval fishes was significantly lower in marshes dominated by P. australis, relative to those dominated by native plant species (Spartina alterniflora); however, changes to wetland plant abundance and composition, water availability, water temperature, nutrient cycling, substrate, reproduction and spawning, genetics of native fishes, and general food web effects were also observed. These results indicate that P. australis poses numerous ecological impacts to the structure and function of wetland habitats, with implications for the ongoing productivity of aquatic ecosystems. 


Phragmites; invasive; aquatic; fish; habitat

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13034/jsst.v11i1.294


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