Distribution and impact of exotic gall flies (Lipara sp.) on native and exotic Phragmites australis

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Two exotic gall fly species infest stems of native and exotic Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel in northeastern North America. In this study, we determined the distribution of Lipara similis Schiner and L. rufitarsis Loew in native and exotic P. australis in Rhode Island. We also studied the within-stand distributions of each fly species and their effects on flowering of native and exotic P. australis. We collected stems from populations throughout southern Rhode Island and measured stem length and diameter, and percent flowering. Stems were then dissected to determine Lipara infestation. L. similis and L. rufitarsis were found throughout Rhode Island infesting both native and exotic P. australis, but their presence and abundance varied among sites. Within stands, L. similis infests the taller, thicker interior stems and L. rufitarsis infests the shorter, thinner exterior stems. Lipara similis reduces stem length by 6%; L. rufitarsis infestation reduces stem length by 37%. The flowering rate of uninfested stems is significantly lower in native P. australis stems than in exotic stems. Both Lipara species prevent infested stems from flowering. In adjacent stands of native and exotic P. australis, L. rufitarsis infests significantly more native stems than exotic stems, possibly further reducing the reproductive potential of the native plants relative to the exotic. Lipara species may play a role in facilitating the displacement of native P. australis by the exotic genotype. © 2006.

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Aquatic Botany