The impact of Japanese knotweed on river discharge at the watershed scale in New Jersey, USA

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Recently, New Jersey has experienced several droughts and declared several critical water shortage areas, spurring interest in reducing freshwater resource depletion. Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica Houtt.) is an invasive plant species that may have a significant effect on stream water loss. In order to assess the impact of this species on river-level water flow, we estimated total knotweed distribution along two tributaries of the Passaic River in New Jersey, USA using a combination of field measurements and GIS to calculate total daily water loss to the atmosphere from three stands of knotweed along these rivers. We measured total leaf area of each stand and transpiration rates across each stand from sun-up to sun-down. The average water loss was 8.5 L wate/day/m2 of ground area covered in knotweed. Knowing the total distribution of knotweed along each river, the amount of river length covered by knotweed stands and the total water lost to the atmosphere per amount of knotweed along each river we were able to estimate the total amount of water transpired to the atmosphere by knotweed per river on a daily basis during its growing season. These results were compared to summer low flow rates to assess the impact on river flow during the growing season for Japanese knotweed. Our results suggest that knotweed along these rivers is reducing total flow by an average of 8% (approximately 800,000–1,400,000 L/day) during the summer months. This is important as the impact of invasive species on water resources in temperate areas is currently under-studied in ecohydrology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2019-2025
Number of pages7
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • GIS
  • ecohydrology
  • invasive species
  • river discharge
  • transpiration
  • watershed


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