Distributions of native and invasive Typha (cattail) throughout the Prairie Pothole Region of North America.
The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America has experienced extreme changes in wetland habitat due to proliferation of invasive plants. Typha × glauca is a highly competitive hybrid between native T. latifolia and non-native T. angustifolia, and it is likely the predominant taxon in PPR wetlands. Genetics-based studies are limited, and distributions are poorly known for the first-generation (F1) hybrid and advanced-generation hybrids from F1 mating. Information pertaining to the distribution of T. × glauca could benefit efforts to understand the mechanisms of its spread and to develop management strategies to limit hybrid expansion and preserve progenitors. We used microsatellite markers of field-collected tissue samples from 131 wetlands spread over approximately 350,000 km2 in the PPR to assess the distribution of hybrid T. × glauca relative to its parental species and to examine the prevalence of F1 hybrids and advanced-generation hybrids. Typha × glauca was found in over 80% of wetlands throughout the PPR, compared to 26 and 18% of wetlands with T. latifolia and T. angustifolia, respectively. Advanced-generation hybrids were more common than F1 hybrids, suggesting that hybridization is not a recent phenomenon. Hybrids were significantly taller than T. latifolia, indicating heterosis. Only 7% of sampled individual genets were pure T. latifolia. These results suggest that T. × glauca is pervasive throughout the PPR and may spread independently of both parents. In addition, limited prevalence of native T. latifolia indicates the need for active management to preserve the species.