The Runaway Weed: Costs and Failures of Phragmites australis Management in the USA
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While public funding of invasive species management has increased substantially in the past decade, there have been few cross-institutional assessments of management programs. We assessed management of Phragmites australis, a problematic invader of coastal habitats, through a cross-institutional economic survey of 285 land managers from US public and private conservation organizations. We found that from 2005 to 2009, these organizations spent >$4.6 million per year on P. australis management, and that 94 % used herbicide to treat a total area of ∼80,000 ha. Despite these high expenditures, few organizations accomplished their management objectives. There was no relationship between resources invested in management and management success, and those organizations that endorsed a particular objective were no more likely to achieve it. Our results question the efficacy of current P. australis management strategies and call for future monitoring of biological management outcomes.
KeywordsInvasive species Management Phragmites australis Restoration Economic survey
We thank Nuria Marba and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback and all focus group and survey participants, as well as Greg Poe, Eric Nelson, and Holly Menninger. L.J.M. was supported by the NSF GRFP; additional funding was provided by the NY Department of Transportation. This project was approved by the Cornell Institutional Review Board for Human Participants Protocol No. 0905000421.
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