Applying the collective impact approach to address non-native species: a case study of the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative


To address the invasion of non-native Phragmites in the Great Lakes, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey—Great Lakes Science Center partnered with the Great Lakes Commission in 2012 to establish the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative (GLPC). The GLPC is a regional-scale partnership established to improve collaboration among stakeholders and increase the effectiveness of non-native Phragmites management and research. Rather than forming a traditional partnership with a narrowly defined goal, the GLPC follows the principles of collective impact to engage stakeholders, guide progress, and align resources to address this complex, regional challenge. In this paper, the concept and tenets of collective impact are described, the GLPC is offered as a model for other natural resource-focused collective impact efforts, and steps for establishing collaboratives are presented. Capitalizing on the interactive collective impact approach, the GLPC is moving toward a broadly accepted common agenda around which agencies and individuals will be able to better align their actions and generate measureable progress in the regional campaign to protect healthy, diverse ecosystems from damage caused by non-native Phragmites.

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Financial support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office allowed the team from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—Great Lakes Science Center and the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) to complete this project. We are grateful to Wes Bickford (USGS), Kim Bourke (IAP Contractor), and Sarah Cook (GLC) for contributions to the development of this collaborative and to Michèle Leduc-Lapierre (GLC) for her assistance to the collaborative and early writing contributions to this manuscript. Finally, we are grateful to the known and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This is contribution 2030 of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center.

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Correspondence to H. A. Braun.

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

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Braun, H.A., Kowalski, K.P. & Hollins, K. Applying the collective impact approach to address non-native species: a case study of the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative. Biol Invasions 18, 2729–2738 (2016).

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  • Phragmites australis
  • Collective impact
  • Collaboration
  • Great Lakes
  • Invasive species
  • Collaborative
  • Regional coordination
  • Partnership