Riparian Invasive Species

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State of Nebraska

The State of Nebraska is attempting to aggressively manage invasive species along the riparian corridors of the Platte River and the Republican River. Although the impetus for the removal is different, in both basins state agencies and weed management districts are using herbicides and mechanical removal to control a combination of invasive species led by Phragmites australis (common reed), Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb. (saltcedar), and Elaeagnus angustifolia L. (Russian olive).


















Along the central stretch of the Platte River, invasive species have overtaken sandbars and side channels which are invaluable wildlife habitat. In an attempt to reclaim this habitat for bird species such as the Piping Plover and Whooping Crane, the state is removing large stretches of common reed.

Along the Republican River, the state is removing all invasive species to reduce riparian evapotranspiration. By reducing evapotranspiration the hope is to increase stream flow along the Republican River. Since 2007 invasive species along the mainstem of the river and along the banks of the Harlan Reservoir have been sprayed with herbicide or mechanically removed.

Image of Russian olive (left) and common reed (right) growing along a riparian wetland in the Republican River Basin.

About our Research Project

In order to understand the impacts of removing invasive species along riparian corridors researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and collaborators at other universities have developed a multi-faceted research project.

On the Republican River basin we are directly measuring evapotranspiration rates from native and invasive plants. We are also using a regional water balance model to estimate the water savings that could be achieved by removing all invasive species within the basin.















On the Platte River we are monitoring water quality changes associated with a controlled herbicide treatment of common reed. Using a combination of in situ instruments and grab samplers we are determining the impacts of riparian vegetation removal. Other experiments are being conducted to measure how invasive species alter biogeochemical processes and sediment characterization.

Our study site in the Republican River Basin showing our LAS transmitter (foreground), LAS receiver (left inset), and Bowen Station 1 (right inset).

Our study site on a northern channel of the Platte River showing the instruments installed at transect 2.