When does invasive species removal lead to ecological recovery? Implications for management success

Abstract

The primary goal of invasive species management is to eliminate or reduce populations of invasive species. Although management efforts are often motivated by broader goals such as to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species on ecosystems and society, there has been little assessment of the consistency between population-based (e.g., removing invaders) and broader goals (e.g., recovery of ecological systems) for invasive species management. To address this, we conducted a comprehensive review of studies (N = 151) that removed invasive species and assessed ecological recovery over time. We found positive or mixed outcomes in most cases, but 31% of the time ecological recovery did not occur or there were negative ecological outcomes, such as increases in non-target invasive species. Ecological recovery was more likely in areas with relatively little anthropogenic disturbance and few other invaders, and for the recovery of animal populations and communities compared to plant communities and ecosystem processes. Elements of management protocols, such as whether invaders were eradicated (completely removed) versus aggressively suppressed (≥90% removed), did not affect the likelihood of ecological recovery. Our findings highlight the importance of considering broader goals and unintended outcomes when designing and implementing invasive species management programs.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank members of the Hulcr and Adams labs for helpful comments on the project, and Thomas H.Q. Powell and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. KMP was funded by the USDA Forest Service Cooperative 15-CA-11330101-016. JH and DCA were partly funded by the USDA Farm Bill Section 10007 Cooperative 14-8130-0377-CA.

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Correspondence to Kirsten M. Prior.

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Prior, K.M., Adams, D.C., Klepzig, K.D. et al. When does invasive species removal lead to ecological recovery? Implications for management success. Biol Invasions 20, 267–283 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1542-x

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Keywords

  • Invasive species
  • Ecological recovery
  • Management success
  • Eradication
  • Removal