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Report2023Open access

Ecological interactions of habitat forming emergent vegetation : With focus on Phragmites australis and Typha sp.

Ashworth, William


Stands of emergent vegetation such as the common reed (Phragmites australis) and members of the genus Typha are a key part of many freshwater and brackish shoreline ecosystems. Similar to trees in a forest, these macrophytes provide structural complexity, a source of food, and shelter from harsher abiotic conditions supporting a broad range of flora and fauna. However, in recent years, anthropogenic activities have facilitated these species to dominate their native ecosystems, forming increasingly homogenous reed beds, and furthermore to invade many non native habitats. In this text, I review the ecological interactions of habitat forming emergent vegetation with an emphasis on other macrophytes, fish, birds and invertebrates. Trends in literature highlight both the importance of emergent vegetation to aquatic ecosystems, but also the negative impact they can have when invading, or forming dense homogenous stands. The competitive exclusion of other macrophytes and physical reduction of space within stands of emergent vegetation are the main drivers that negate or reverse most of the beneficial ecological interactions of reed or Typha with other organisms. I also detail how various management practices have attempted to address the presented issues, with the most successful methods being those that aim to promote heterogeneity. While progress has been made, future studies should focus on the identification of optimal management practices, to pave the way for more effective conservation applications.


Emergent vegetation; Reed; Typha; Phragmites australis

Published in

Aqua introductory research essay
2023, number: 2023:1eISBN: 978-91-8046-697-4Publisher: Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences