Detection and Monitoring of Invasive Phragmites


Detection and monitoring of invasive Phragmites

Joseph Knight, Forest Resources


Phragmites (formally Phragmites australis subsp. australis, also known as common reed) is an invasive wetland grass that forms dense stands of up to 15 feet tall. It reduces habitat quality for native fish, insects, plants and birds; decreases biodiversity; and can alter water chemistry and topography. Both the invasive and a native subspecies of P. australis occur in Minnesota.  


Future management of non-native Phragmites will depend upon knowing where it is in the landscape. Monitoring large, remote areas of the state can be difficult and expensive. Remote sensing technology offers a new opportunity for monitoring populations easily over time. 


This project will take advantage of state-of-the-art, high-resolution satellite imaging to remotely detect non-native Phragmites across the Minnesota landscape. 

Research questions

  • How accurate is remote sensing in the detection of non-native Phragmites at known locations of infestation? 
  • What is the potential for using remote sensing to detect Phragmites across large areas, like the state of Minnesota?

Practical implications

This work will provide our partners and stakeholders with previously unavailable maps of Phragmites in the Minnesota and Great Lakes Basin areas – a vital tool for future management. A project website will make public all results, data, code, recommendations and tutorial information for future replication and improvement.





Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), US Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Michigan Tech Research Institute

Research Team:


Joseph Knight, principal investigator, Department of Forest Resources

Daniel Heins, co-principal investigator, Department of Forest Resources

Connor Anderson, Geospatial Support Assistant

Keith Pelletier, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Natural Resources Science and Management