A new tool for managing introduced Phragmites australis in Ontario: assessing invasion impacts and implementing biological control
Introduced Phragmites australis (common reed) is one of the most invasive plants in North America. Existing management is costly, can negatively affect other species, and is often only effective for small infestations. Classical biological control (i.e., introducing herbivores from the weed’s native range) is a promising tool for P. australis management that can contribute to a broader program of integrated pest management (IPM). Our goal is to partner with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to implement biological control of introduced P. australis in southern Ontario. Our first objective will be to document the impacts of introduced P. australis to inform effective management and monitoring, locating and describing the different lineages of the species found in southern Ontario (native, introduced, hybrid) and their ecological interactions. Our second objective will be to develop and experimentally test the protocols needed to implement biological control of introduced P. australis in southern Ontario at a pilot scale, including methods for rearing, storing, releasing, and monitoring biocontrol agents at experimental nurse sites. As leaders in wetland conservation, DUC will be able to participate in the first biological control program for introduced P. australis and gain a promising new tool for managing this challenging, widespread, and costly invader.