Phragmites australis is an aggressive invasive species threatening ecosystem services and overall wetland quality in the Great Lakes basin. Great Lakes resource managers have spent more than $100 million on herbicide control methods because of serious, negative impacts on biodiversity, habitat and even real estate values.
AES worked with the Michigan Tech Research Institute to develop a standardized, efficient method for monitoring the effectiveness of herbicide spraying as an adaptive management technique for controlling Phragmites. The grant project focused on remote sensing, imaging and analysis that can assist land managers throughout the Great Lakes in monitoring and managing Phragmites.
Following site selection and pairing of treated and untreated wetlands on Green Bay (WI) and Saginaw Bay (MI), AES acquired multi-spectral aerial imagery (4-band ortho photography) during critical seasons for remote sensing and mapping of wetland vegetation types.
AES also collected oblique-angle aerial photos for shoreline interpretation and calibration of mapping tasks. Imagery data were compiled into a GIS system for informing vegetation distribution, field efforts and to serve as the basis for analysis and landscape-scale mapping efforts.
AES ecologists conducted bird and amphibian surveys for paired sites, along with vegetation surveys to field-verify treated and untreated wetlands. Data collected on vegetation communities was used to determine response to aerial herbicide application and other management techniques. Map results at a 6-inch resolution have necessary detail to evaluate the effectiveness of herbicide treatments as well as to inform adaptive management strategies.
University of Michigan Water Center Grant:
A Baseline and Standardized Method for Monitoring the Treatment and Control of Invasive Phragmites australis along the Great Lakes Coastline and Assessing the Effects of Treatment on Ecosystem Biodiversity
Adaptive Management Strategies | Mapped Recommendations
- Areas of standing dead Phrag: cutting, mulching or prescribed burn
- Areas of dense thatch: mulching, raking or prescribed burn
- Medium-sized areas of Phrag re-sprout: ATV herbicide
- Edges missed by herbicide treatment: ATV/backpack herbicide
- Large areas of dense live Phrag: Helicopter or ATV Herbicide
- Small areas of Phrag re-sprout: Backpack herbicide
- Sensitive wetland communities such as sedges and grasses
Website: A Baseline and Standardized Method for Monitoring the Treatment of Invasive Phragmites
PDF download: A Baseline and Standardized Method for Monitoring the Treatment of Invasive Phragmites australis Along the Great Lakes Coastline and Assessing the Effects of Treatment on Ecosystem Biodiversity
Principal Investigator: Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, PH.D: Michigan Tech Research Institute
Co-Investigator: Jason Carlson, Director, Geospatial Services, Applied Ecological Services