Dense populations of Arundo donax affect riversides and stream channels, compete with and displace native plants, interfere with flood control, and is extremely flammable increasing the likelihood and intensity of fires. It may establish a invasive plant-fire regime as it both causes fires and recovers from them 3-4 times faster than native plants. It is also known to displace and reduce habitats for native species including the Federally endangered Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii).
Its long, fibrous, interconnecting root mats of giant reed form a framework for debris behind bridges, culverts, and other structures that can effect their function and disturb ecosystems. Its rapid growth rate, estimated 2-5 times faster than native competitors, and vegetative reproduction, it is able to quickly invade new areas and form pure stands. Once established, A. donax has the ability to outcompete and completely suppress native vegetation, reduce habitat for wildlife, and inflict drastic ecological change (Benton et al, 2006; McWilliams, 2004; Ambrose and Rundel, 2007; Rieger & Keager, 1989).
Location Specific Impacts:
Cuatro Ciénegas (Mexico)
Reduction in native biodiversity: Because of its ability to inhabit shallow clear-water streams, Arundo donax could put the globally rare and unique stromatolites of the Cuatro Ciénegas ecosystems in jeopardy (McGaugh, 2006).
Threat to endangered species: Arundo donax has been a major contributor to the loss of the endemic and threatened Rio Salado darter, Etheostoma segrex (Norris & Minckley 2002), which recent surveys deem to be near extinction (McGaugh, 2006).
California (United States (USA))
Ecosystem change: Arundo donax dominates riparian zones throughout California reducing and displacing native plants and altering ecosystems (McWilliams, 2004).
Threat to endangered species: Arundo donax is known to displace and reduce habitats for native species including the federally endangered Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii)