Common reed (Phragmites australis) forms dense stands with deep layers of residual organic matter that negatively affects plant diversity and possibly habitat use by wetland birds. We sought to determine whether seasonal relative abundance and species richness of birds varied among 3 habitat types in Great Lakes coastal wetland complexes recently invaded by common reed. We used fixed-distance point counts to determine species relative abundances and species richness in edge and interior locales within common reed, cattail (Typha spp.), and meadow marsh habitats of various sizes during 2 summers (2001 and 2002) and 1 autumn (2001) at Long Point, Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada. We found that total relative abundance and species richness of birds were greater in common reed habitat compared to cattail or meadow marsh habitats. However, we also found that relative abundance of marsh-nesting birds was greater in meadow marsh habitat than in cattail and common reed during summer. Lastly, we found that, irrespective of habitat type, habitat edges had higher total relative abundance and species richness of birds than did habitat interiors. Our results show that common reed provides suitable habitat for a diversity of landbirds during summer and autumn but only limited habitat for many marsh-nesting birds during summer. Based on these results, we recommend restoration of meadow marsh habitat through reduction of common reed in Great Lakes wetlands where providing habitat for breeding marsh-nesting birds is an objective. Managers also might consider reducing the size of nonnative common reed stands to increase edge effect and use by birds, possibly including wetland birds.
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