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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Over the last two decades, the northern Gulf of Mexico has undergone tremendous growth and development that has resulted in extensive and ongoing habitat modification. We had the opportunity to survey the main channels and bayous of three coastal estuarine basins for the presence and coverage of the invasive Phragmites australis (common reed). The occurrence and area of P. australis was highly variable among the lower Pascagoula River, Back Bay of Biloxi, and St. Louis Bay basins, with the largest amount of coverage (0.489 km(2)) found within the lower Pascagoula River basin and the smallest in Back Bay of Biloxi (0.0056 km(2)). Monospecific-stand coverage (47.2%) dominated both mixed-tree (27.2%) and mixed-marsh (26.6%) coverages in the lower Pascagoula River basin, whereas in the Back Bay of Biloxi, mixed-marsh coverage (71.4%) was greater than monospecific-stand (25.0%) and mixed-tree (3.6%) coverages. The only portion of St, Louis Bay containing P. australis (0.069 km(2)) was near the mouth of the Jourdan River, with monospecific-stand (62.3%) dominating the mixed-marsh (36.2%) and mixed-tree (1.5%) coverages. Although we were not able to survey all possible areas of each estuarine basin, the information gained in this study provides baseline data on the occurrence of this invasive species in the three main Mississippi coastal basins. Future monitoring of the spread of common reed, especially in the light of continued coastal development, is necessary if resource managers are to make informed decisions about which management action (water diversions and restoration scenarios) might positively influence this highly invasive native species.


©Southeastern Naturalist

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Southeastern Naturalist





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