Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework

Phragmites australis is an aggressive non-native species that has invaded an estimated 60,000 acres of shoreline habitat as well as an unknown amount of inland areas across the Great Lakes region. Millions of dollars have been spent on non-native Phragmites management since 2010, but long-term control is difficult, a standardized measurement and tracking system does not exist, and land managers face uncertainty regarding site specific treatment effectiveness.  To address the challenges faced by land managers, the USGS and the University of Georgia have partnered with the GLC to develop a new strategy that will apply adaptive management techniques to improve how Phragmites is managed in the Great Lakes basin. The Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework (PAMF) was initiated by the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative and is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).  The framework is currently progressing through the set-up phase and will be ready to launch by mid-summer 2017.

PAMF is the first wide-scale application of adaptive management to address the issue of non-native Phragmites.  With this approach, PAMF will become a decision-support tool that is beneficial for Phragmites managers across the basin.

The PAMF core team is composed of staff at the USGS, the University of Georgia and the Great Lakes Commission. The core team is working closely with a Technical Working Group (TWG), which is composed of a team of twelve professionals from across the basin with Phragmites management experience. The core team and the TWG together is the PAMF set-up team.  The PAMF set-up team is currently developing the three components of PAMF: quantifiable state-transition models, standardized monitoring protocol and a centralized database.  PAMF set-up should be completed by late summer 2017.

In the meantime, the Great Lakes Commission has been preparing for the implementation phase of PAMF by networking and communicating with potential participants and Phragmites managers from Canada and the US.  A PAMF brochure has been developed and a series of technical factsheets are available.


Non-native Phragmites is a basin-wide problem that requires a collaborative and regional approach. In 2015, the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative initiated the development of the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework (PAMF).

Adaptive Management is a standardized approach to natural resource management that builds learning into the management process by combining consistent monitoring protocols with quantifiable and predictive models to generate an improved understanding of how specific site conditions can impact and change expected management outcomes.

The centralized database is essentially a user-interface where PAMF participants will enroll a site, submit monitoring data, and receive updated management advice. This cycle will repeat on an annual basis and PAMF will continue to run as long as non-native Phragmites continues to require management in the basin.

This approach can truly be a regional one where data from anyone in the basin is directly contributing to an improved understanding about what control options will be most effective and efficient across various site conditions. Ultimately, Phragmites managers across the basin will all save time and resources while the site specific learning is documented in a standardized way, and made accessible to everyone through time.

Project Partners


This program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the USGS-Great Lakes Science Center under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

For More Information

Heather Braun
Project Manager for Habitat Restoration
Great Lakes Commission,
[email protected]

Karen Alexander
Senior Program Specialist
Great Lakes Commission
[email protected]

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