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A review of Cattail (Typha) invasion in North American wetlands

February 12, 2020


Cattail (Typha) is an iconic emergent wetland plant found worldwide. By producing an abundance of wind-dispersed seeds, cattail can colonize wetlands across great distances, and its rapid growth rate, large size, and aggressive expansion result in dense stands in a variety of aquatic ecosystems such as marshes, ponds, lakes, and riparian areas. Cattail can also quickly dominate disturbed areas with waterlogged soils such as roadside ditches, retention areas, and fringes of stormwater ponds. These dense stands impact local plant and animal life, biogeochemical cycling, and wetland hydrology, which in turn alter wetland functions. Over recent decades, the distribution and abundance of cattail in North America has increased as a result of human disturbances to natural water cycles and increased nutrient loads. In addition, highly competitive nonnative and hybrid taxa have worsened the rapid spread of cattail. Because cattail invasion and expansion often change wetlands in undesirable ways, wetland managers often respond with widespread management efforts, though these efforts may have short-lived or weak effects. Notwithstanding the negative impacts, cattail provides beneficial ecosystem services including the reduction of pollution through bioremediation and the production of biofuel material.

Despite the widespread distribution and invasive characteristics of cattail, a comprehensive review and synthesis of past and current research on cattail was lacking. To address this gap, a diverse team of researchers produced a paper that details the spread and management of cattail throughout North America, summarizing 4 decades of research from more than 650 references (Bansal and others, 2019). This fact sheet highlights the primary topics covered in the paper.

Publication Year 2020
Title A review of Cattail (Typha) invasion in North American wetlands
DOI 10.3133/fs20193076
Authors Sheel Bansal, Brian Tangen, Shane Lishawa, Sue Newman, Douglas Wilcox
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Fact Sheet
Series Number 2019-3076
Index ID fs20193076
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center