Cutting of Phragmites australis as a lake restoration technique: Productivity calculation and nutrient removal in Wuliangsuhai Lake, China
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Reed is one of the most frequent and dominant species in wetlands all over the world, with common reed (Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.) as the most widely distributed species. In many wetlands, P. australis plays a highly ambivalent role. On the one hand, in many wetlands it purifies wastewater, provides habitat for numerous species, and is a potentially valuable raw material, while on the other hand it is an invasive species which expands aggressively, prevents fishing, blocks ditches and waterways, and builds monospecies stands. This paper uses the eutrophic reed-swamp of Wuliangsuhai Lake in Inner Mongolia, northern China, as a case to present the multiple benefits of regular reed cutting. The reed area and aboveground biomass production are calculated based on field data. Combined with data about water and reed nutrient content, the impact of reed cutting on the lake nutrient budget (N and P) is investigated. Currently, at this lake around 100,000 tons of reed are harvested in winter annually, removing 16% and 8% of the total nitrogen and phosphorus influx, respectively. Harvesting all available winter reed could increase the nutrient removal rates to 48% and 24%, respectively. We also consider the effects of summer harvesting, in which reed biomass removal could overcompensate for the nutrient influx but could potentially reduce reed regrowth.