Humber faculty and student fight to control Phragmites australis in the Humber Arboretum

by Michelle Bozzetto


Humber faculty and student fight to control Phragmites australis in the Humber Arboretum


During the summer of 2016, faculty member Lynn Short of the School of Applied Technology and her student, Ben Doerksen, conducted a research project in the Humber Arboretum that would help to control the invasive plant species, Phragmites australis, which threatens biodiversity and wildlife in Ontario wetlands.


Short has been attempting to control this invasive species for years on her own at her cottage, and discovered that partnering with Applied Research & Innovation at Humber would be beneficial to her cause. She and Doerksen collaborated with the City of Toronto, the Ontario Phragmites Working Group, the University of Waterloo and the Humber Arboretum in order to test under which circumstances the Phragmites australis would be least invasive to other plant and animal species by dividing a section of the Arboretum into different groups with various situational factors such as number of removal attempts.


They conducted the study all summer long, using Short’s chemical-free removal methods and collecting data from their plots to prove that the methods are effective. The first year results are very encouraging.


“The best part was definitely the invaluable experience of being able to soak up all of Lynn Short’s knowledge,” said Landscape Technician student, Ben Doerksen. “I think this experience has, more than I’ve anticipated, led my interests career-wise. It’ll have an effect on my future endeavors for sure.”


Short acknowledged that the Phragmites australis would not be controlled in one season, by any means. “My goal is to conduct another research project next summer using the same location so that we can see the effect of repeated removal over a couple of seasons,” she explained.


Research Team:

Faculty: Lynn Short

Student: Ben Doerksen

Collaborators: City of Toronto, Ontario Phragmites Working Group, University of Waterloo, Humber Arboretum