Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Phragmites australis is an Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) in Kansas, a non-native reed that threatens lake and river ecology, displaces desirable species, impedes movement of wildlife and humans, that can have detrimental economic effects on communities. The majority of Phragmites research is in brackish ecosystems and the effects of Phragmites in freshwater systems and especially on fishes is undocumented, even as many states and agencies invest substantial resources in management. As freshwater systems face a biodiversity crisis, prevention and control of invasive species is critical. Effective management therefore requires a thorough understanding of the effects these invaders have on ecosystems and the application of modem and efficient technologies. The strong trophic links of aquatic systems make them ideal communities to observe changes in trophic dynamics when invasive species establish. This project utilized UAS tools to spectrally identify Phragmites stands as a practical management application and measured ecological effects by assessing fish condition and zooplankton abundance in microhabitats. Juvenile fish condition was poorer in bays dominated by Phragmite vegetation. Zooplankton density was higher is bays dominated by Water Willow vegetation, however a greater abundance of invasive Daphnia lumholtzi was observed in these bays. These data and techniques inform fisheries and land managers of ecosystem effects and provide a framework to apply modem UAS tools to facilitate early detection and monitoring efforts. These findings emphasize the need for an ecological approach in invasive species management. As invasive species continue to establish, trophic cascades within aquatic communities have the potential to effect ecosystem services and accelerate the freshwater biodiversity crisis.


Dr. William Stark

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



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