Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 521–539 | Cite as

Adaptive Management of Nonnative Species: Moving Beyond the “Either-Or” Through Experimental Pluralism

  • Jason M. EvansEmail author
  • Ann C. Wilkie
  • Jeffrey Burkhardt


This paper develops the outlines of a pragmatic, adaptive management-based approach toward the control of invasive nonnative species (INS) through a case study of Kings Bay/Crystal River, a large artesian springs ecosystem that is one of Florida’s most important habitats for endangered West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus). Building upon recent critiques of invasion biology, principles of adaptive management, and our own interview and participant–observer research, we argue that this case study represents an example in which rigid application of invasion biology’s a␣priori imperative to minimize INS has produced counterproductive results from both an ecological and social standpoint. As such, we recommend that INS control in Kings Bay should be relaxed in conjunction with an overall program of adaptive ecosystem management that includes meaningful participation and input from non-institutional stakeholders. However, we also note that adaptive management and INS control are by no means mutually exclusive, in Kings Bay or elsewhere. Instead, we suggest that adaptive management offers a means by which INS control efforts can emerge from—and be evaluated through—ongoing scientific research and participatory dialogue about the condition of specific places, rather than non-contextual assumptions about the harmfulness of INS as a general class.


Adaptive management Invasion biology Nonnative species Invasive species Crystal River Florida springs Manatee Water hyacinth Algal blooms 


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We would like to thank all of the local stakeholders and ecosystem managers who took the time to share their perspectives in interviews, e-mail exchanges, and informal conversations. Special thanks go to Tom Ankersen, Richard Hamann, and Tom Ruppert and others at the University of Florida’s Conservation Clinic for introducing Jason to water quality issues and key stakeholders in the Crystal River area. Very detailed comments from three anonymous reviewers expanded our theoretical perspective and greatly improved the final manuscript. Study research was made possible by fellowship funding from the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason M. Evans
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ann C. Wilkie
    • 2
  • Jeffrey Burkhardt
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Soil and Water Science DepartmentUniversity of Florida – IFASGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Food and Resource Economics DepartmentUniversity of Florida – IFASGainesvilleUSA

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