State Water Resources Research Institute Program
Project ID: 2011WA328B
Title: Ecohydrology of Invasive Reed Canary Grass
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2011
End Date: 2/28/2012
Congressional District: Washington: 9th District
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Invasive Species
Keywords: low flow conditions, evapotranspiration, ecohydrology, Philaris arundinacea, stomatal conductance, stable isotope
Principal Investigators: McNeely, Camille (Eastern Washington University); Brown, Rebecca Louise (Eastern Washington University); Nezat, Carmen Ann (Eastern Washington University); Schwab, Suzanne Marie
Federal Funds: $ 29,992
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 59,999
Abstract: Ecohydrology of Invasive Reed Canary Grass (Philaris arundinacea)
We will investigate the riparian ecohydrology of invasive Reed Canary Grass (Philaris arundinacea); our goal is to determine if summer stream discharge is altered by P. arundinacea domination of the riparian zone. Streams within the Eastern Washington Palouse and Scablands suffer from water quality and habitat impairments, including nutrient and sediment loading and high water temperature. These impairments are most significant during the summer; poor water quality is associated with low stream discharge, which lessens dilution of pollutants and allows water temperature to warm more quickly. We hope to determine whether invasion of riparian zones by P. arundinacea contributes to reduced summer stream flow.
P. arundinaceais an invasive, European perennial grass that commonly develops monocultures in North American wetlands and riparian zones. It is a pervasive invader that threatens native plant diversity suspect that P. arundinacea monocultures may also modify local riparian hydrology as a result of their long growing season and high rates of evapotranspiration. We will use two complimentary techniques to test these hypotheses: direct measurements of evapotranspiration at leaf and plot scale using stomatal conductance and analysis of stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope tracers to determine the sources of water used by different vegetation types.
We hope our data will help assess one potential role of P. arundinacea in exacerbating water quality and watershed management concerns in the northwestern U.S., and provide useful information to management agencies. We also hope that this project will be a first step in a larger assessment of the role of reed canary grass in riparian and stream ecosystems, including effects on water quality, sediment and channel dynamics, and stream food webs.
Progress/Completion Report, 2011, PDF