From restoration to adaptation: the changing discourse of invasive species management in coastal New England under global environmental change


Scholars have focused on militaristic metaphors of invasion for more than a decade, but few if any studies look to the on-the-ground language of restoration practitioners to determine how they talk about invasive species. Here we demonstrate the absence of militaristic metaphors in one subset of restoration managers in coastal Rhode Island who manage for introduced Phragmites australis, the highly invasive common reed. Instead, these managers frame their discussions of Phragmites in terms of indicators of condition, ecosystem services, and resilience, which might indicate a shift away from command-and-control models of invasive species management. We suggest that qualitative research, including interviews with restoration managers, can offer a useful, in depth view onto issues of management and decision making and that it is crucially important to attend to the language of invasion science and management in an era of global change. Ecological changes in coastal ecosystems seem to impact managers’ language choices, while these language choices, in turn, can have far-reaching impacts on decision making in coastal systems.

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First we thank our interviewees, whose experiences and efforts form the basis of this paper. We thank our anonymous reviewers and Marisa Mazzotta, Walter Berry, Kate Mulvaney, Tim Gleason, Wayne Munns, and John Darling for strengthening our manuscript through their generous feedback. This research was funded in part by the US Environmental Protection Agency through the ORISE research fellowship program, but this paper has not been subjected to US Environmental Protection Agency review. Therefore, it does not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency. This contribution is identified by tracking number ORD-013067 of the Atlantic Ecology Division, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency.

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Correspondence to Caroline Gottschalk Druschke.

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Guest editors: Laura A. Meyerson and Kristin Saltonstall/Phragmites invasion.

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Druschke, C.G., Meyerson, L.A. & Hychka, K.C. From restoration to adaptation: the changing discourse of invasive species management in coastal New England under global environmental change. Biol Invasions 18, 2739–2747 (2016).

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  • Climate change
  • Ecosystem services
  • Frames
  • Language
  • Managers
  • Metaphor
  • Phragmites
  • Resilience
  • Restoration
  • Rhetoric
  • Rhode Island
  • Salt marsh
  • Wetlands