Common reed (Phragmites australis) is a prominent species in the upstream part of the eutrophic Scheldt estuary (Belgium, The Netherlands). From 1996 till 1998, seasonal growth dynamics of the species were studied in two monospecific stands subjected to different salinity regimes (seasonal means 1.6 and 13.3 PSU, respectively). We addressed the following questions: how are these reed vegetations affected by meteorological conditions and by the growth site, what are the important growth processes and what is the fate of the annually fixed carbon. A mathematical model was developed and calibrated using the data from the oligohaline site. Subsequent application of the model to the mesohaline stand required adaptation of parameters relating to the partitioning of resources and timing of growth initiation only. At their peak, the aboveground biomass was 587–1678 g DW m-2 at the 13.3 PSU site and 1116–2179 g DW m-2 (1.6 PSU); more than 60% of the biomass was located underground. In 1996, biomasses were 2–3 times lower than in the other 2 years, caused by a retarded growth initiation. Probably due to a lower temperature in early 1996, rhizome bud burst occurred more than 1 month later compared to the other years. In addition, growth initiation was several weeks later in the mesohaline site. This appeared mainly responsible for the large difference in maximal aboveground biomass between both stations. Architecture of the plants was also affected, with a higher shoot density (about 50% more shoots), better-developed root system (15% of total belowground biomass compared to 5%) and more, but smaller leaves at the higher salinity site. Notwithstanding large differences in aboveground biomass, annual growth was similar at both stations (154 and 132 mol C m-2 per year at the oligo- and mesohaline station, respectively). Primary production accounted for about 80% of all growth processes, rhizome remobilization for almost 20%, translocation of mass before sloughing of leaves accounting about 3%. Within a year, some 44% (oligohaline) and 36% (mesohaline) of new assimilates produced by photosynthesis accumulated as dead litter. The other part was respired by the plant itself, either to provide the energy for growth (23%) or maintenance costs (33–41% at the oligo- and mesohaline station, respectively). Calculated annual turnover rates of aboveground biomass, rhizomes and roots were 100, 62 and 73%, respectively. [KEYWORDS: Carbon budget; Numerical model; Growth model; Interannual variation; Estuary]
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Botany
Journal publication date2004

ID: 140361