Characteristics of a successful estuarine invader: Evidence of self-compatibility in native and non-native lineages of Phragmites australis

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A non-native common reed Phragmites australis Cav. lineage is invading estuarine and wetland ecosystems throughout North America, substantially altering biodiversity and nutrient cycles. The role of sexual reproduction and the potential for self-compatibility in dispersal and colonization events has not been studied. We examined the ability of native and non-native populations to self-fertilize in coastal salt marshes by isolating inflorescences during flower formation and maturation. Mature inflorescences were examined for seed production, and resulting seeds were assessed for germination. Seeds were present in ∼60% of spikelets of both the native and exotic lineages, and both lineages had seeds that germinated. These results provide evidence that the potential exists for self-pollination in native and non-native P. australis lineages. Future research must address the importance of self-compatibility in promoting the invasion of the exotic lineage and the conservation of native lineages. © Inter-Research 2007.

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Marine Ecology Progress Series