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Effects of the invasion of Phragmites australis on altering benthic habitat structure and macrofaunal assemblages.

L. A. Levin and T. S. Talley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

P. E. Fell, R. S. Warren and E. M. Bartos, Connecticut College

Summary: The spread of invasive plants is threatening the integrity of coastal wetlands on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts at an increasing rate. This project examines the consequences of invasion by Phragmites australis into brackish and upper saline marshes for associated faunal communities. We emphasize the influence of Phragmites on below-ground sediment properties (organic matter accumulation, sediment porosity, oxygenation, and particle size) and the infaunal organisms that inhabit those sediments. Comparisons are made with similar sediments and faunal assemblages in adjacent marsh habitat vegetated by native plants. In general, plant-infaunal interactions in marshes are poorly understood. This project will provide information about how invasive vegetation modifies sediment-dwelling faunas and will improve understanding of ecological interactions in New England wetlands.

Phragmites australis invades Spartina patens meadow in the lower Connecticut River estuary.
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Updated September 7, 2006
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