2021 Invasive Phragmites Management. Georgian Bay Forever Report.

7 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Introduction to invasive Phragmites What is an invasive species? Invasive species are non-native plants or animals that have been introduced to an ecosystem and have the ability to spread and disrupt the native wildlife. They are a threat to the environment and the broader economy. Non-native Phragmites are a significant threat to the Great Lakes along with many other invasive species. Phragmites in Georgian Bay Georgian Bay, Lake Huron is home to some of Canada’s most pristine coastal wetlands. Many organisms depend on these wetlands for life-sustaining activities such as foraging, spawning, shelter and more. Phragmites can be divided up into 2 lineages. The native subspecies, Phragmites australis americanus, and the invasive subspecies, Phragmites australis australis, which are both found in Georgian Bay. We acknowledge that invasive Phragmites is a reed grass that unwilfully travelled from Europe to Canada in the 1800s through human activity and has developed as a significant threat to Georgian Bay’s coastal wetlands. In its natural environment, Phragmites does not pose any threat to other organisms and encounters 140 fellow creatures that live in balance with each other. But, living in North America, the invasive lineage does not have any natural threats or predators which allows it to flourish in an unbalanced way by poisoning our native species that have not evolved to live in harmony with it. Unfortunately, in the Great Lakes coastal ecosystems, invasive Phragmites grows quickly into extremely dense monocultures, outcompeting native vegetation and reducing biodiversity and habitat for native plants and animals. Furthermore, this impairs proper functioning of wetlands which are significant ecosystems that enhance water quality, provide shelter and food for other relatives and sequester carbon helping to counter human caused Global Heating. Identification Invasive Phragmites can be identified by their connecting root system of hollow rhizomes, beige stems and tall green stalks with alternating leaves. The stalks, if wellestablished, can grow up to 15 ft tall. Native Phragmites looks quite similar but does not grow as tall or dense and will co-exist amongst other native species. In late August, invasive Phragmites begin to develop large purple/reddish seed heads which eventually turn beige, unlike the native Phragmites that develop seeds earlier in the season. After seeds disperse in the fall, the stalks die and remain standing throughout the winter. Majority of native plants will fall under the weight of snow, breakdown, contribute nutrients back to the soil and allow space for new vegetation to grow come Spring. The remains of dried out stalks of invasive Phragmites prevent new growth of native plants in the Spring. During the summer, one can identify a stand of invasive Phragmites by the presence of leftover standing stalks and seeds from years previous. To find out more information on identification, visit: Phragmites Identification Tips | Georgian Bay Forever Figure 3: Invasive (left) and native (right) Phragmites. Follow the link to an interactive map of all stands on the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay in 2021: https://arcg.is/4HaDa0