Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological and Environmental Sciences (MSBES)

Specialization

Ecology & Ecosystem Sciences (EES)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Laura A Meyerson

Abstract

With the rapid decline of Phragmites australis in the Mississippi River Delta (MRD) and increasing threat of land erosion, understanding the possible contributing factors to reed dieback have become increasingly apparent. In this study, we use a greenhouse experiment to examine how the combination of salinity and herbivory could contribute to carbon starvation and ultimately reed dieback in reed stands of North American native and/or the introduced European in New England wetlands. We measured the aboveground biomass, leaf water content, leaf toughness, and specific leaf area, as well as carbohydrate levels and starch content across three salinity treatments with and without S. frugiperda. We found that sucrose does not seem to play a role in terms of mediating salinity stress and that the percentage of starch granules found in the rhizomes increases with salinity, for both lineages. Overall, with some minor differences, we found that the native and introduced lineage of P. australis are similarly affected by herbivory from S. frugiperda, with and without the addition of salinity.

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