Invasive species, both plants and animals, are a long-standing threat to the National Parks of the United States. For nearly two decades the National Park Service has implemented a service-wide invasive plant management program without a commensurate program focusing on invasive animals. While individual park units are struggling to sufficiently address the threat of invasive terrestrial and aquatic animal species, a system-wide effort could bring the resources and capacity needed to address a challenge of this magnitude. We present our key findings from a detailed review about invasive animal species and their management by the National Park Service. We assert that the global threat of invasive animals substantially undermines the National Park Service mission. Coordinated action could improve the ability for the National Park Service to meet the challenge, and partnering with neighboring agencies and invasive species networks outside of the National Park Service is essential for success. Public engagement, cooperation and support is also critical and can be accomplished through strategic engagement efforts. Finally, the National Park Service would benefit from the development of an invasive animal program that includes structured decision support, adaptive management and monitoring, the organizational structure to meet the highest needs, and capitalizing on the significant opportunities that exist through the appropriate use of emerging technologies.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Since sharing our findings with NPS, they have now created an invasive animal initiative and hired a coordinator.
Aguirre AA, Longcore T, Barbieri M, Dabritz H, Hill D, Klein PN, Lepczyk C, Lilly EL, McLeod R, Milcarsky J, Murphy CE, Su C, VanWormer E, Yolken R, Sizemore GC (2019) The one health approach to toxoplasmosis: epidemiology, control, and prevention strategies. Ecohealth 16(2):378–390. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-019-01405-7
Aplet GH, Anderson SJ, Stone CP (1991) Association between feral pig disturbance and the composition of some alien plant assemblages in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Vegetatio 95(1):55–62. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00124953
Armour (2006) When pythons attack. Salon. https://www.salon.com/2006/08/18/pythons/ Accessed 5 May 2019
Bekkers VJJM, Tummers LG, Voorberg WH (2013) From public innovation to social innovation in the public sector: a literature review of relevant drivers and barriers. Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam
Brown EK, McKenna SA, Beavers SC, Clark T, Gawel M, Raikow DF (2016) Informing coral reef management decisions at four U.S. National Parks in the Pacific using long-term monitoring data. Ecosphere 7(10):e01463. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1463
Campbell K, Donlan CJ (2005) Feral goat eradications on islands. Conserv Biol 19(5):1362–1374. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00228.x
Cherry TL, Shogren JF (2001) Invasive species management for the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem: What do visitors think? Yellowstone Sci Spring 2001:10–15
Crowley SL, Hinchliffe S, McDonald RA (2017) Conflict in invasive species management. Front Ecol Environ 15(3):133–141. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1471
Dennis, JG (1980) National Park Service research on exotic species and the policy behind that research: an introduction to the special session on exotic species. In: Proceedings of the second conference on scientific research in National Parks, San Francisco, CA
Dorcas ME, Willson JD, Reed RN, Snow RW, Rochford MR, Miller MA, Meshaka WE Jr, Andreadis PT, Mazzotti FJ, Romagosa CM, Hart KM (2012) Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(7):2418–2422. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1115226109
Drees L (2004) A retrospective on NPS policy and management. Park Sci 22(2):21–26
Epanchin-Niell RS, Hufford MB, Aslan CE, Sexton JP, Port JD, Waring TM (2010) Controlling invasive species in complex social landscapes. Front Ecol Environ 8(4):210–216. https://doi.org/10.1890/090029
EvergladesRestoration.gov (n.d.) Everglades Restoration Initiative. https://evergladesrestoration.gov/ Accessed 5 May 2019
Frick WF, Pollock JF, Hicks AC, Alan C, Langwig KE, Reynolds DS, Turner GG, Butchkoski CM, Kunz TH (2010) An emerging disease causes regional population collapse of a common North American bat species. Science 329(5992):679–682. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1188594
Groves CR, Game ET (2015) Conservation planning: informed decisions for a healthier planet. Roberts and Company Publishers, Colorado
Gurr GM, You M (2016) Conservation biological control of pests in the molecular era: new opportunities to address old constraints. Front Plant Sci 6:e1255. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2015.01255
Hallac DE, Bigelow P, Koel T, White PJ (2014) Noble versus native: the societal challenge of restoring native trout in Yellowstone National Park. In: Proceedings of the Wild Trout XI symposium
Heberlein TA (2012) Navigating environmental attitudes. Oxford University Press, New York
Hickey V (2010) The quagga mussel crisis at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada (USA). Conserv Biol 24(4):931–937. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01490.x
Hughes RF, Asner GP, Mascaro J, Uowolo A, Baldwin J (2014) Carbon storage landscapes of lowland Hawaii: The role of native and invasive species through space and time. Ecol Appl 24(4):716–731. https://doi.org/10.1890/12-2253.1
Hulme PE (2009) Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization. J Appl Ecol 46(1):10–18. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01600.x
Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) (2019) The interface between invasive species and the increased incidence of tick-borne diseases, and the implications for federal land managers. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/tick-borne_disease_white_paper.pdf. Accessed 5 Oct 2019
Johnson K (2011) In Yellowstone, killing one kind of trout to save another. The New York Times, New York
Johnson JA, Altwegg R, Evans DM, Ewen JG, Gordon IJ, Pettorelli N, Young JK (2016) Is there a future for genome-editing technologies in conservation? Anim Conserv 19(2):97–101. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12273
Kapitza K, Zimmerman H, Martin-Lopez B, von Wehrden H (2019) Research on the social perception of invasive species: a systematic literature review. NeoBiota 43:47–68. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.43.31619
Kilpatrick AM, Briggs CJ, Daszak P (2010) The ecology and impact of chytridiomycosis: an emerging disease of amphibians. Trends Ecol Evol 25(2):109–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.07.011
Krajick K (2005) Ecology: winning the war against island invaders. Science 310(5753):1410–1413. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.310.5753.1410
Krysko KL, Somma LA, Smith DC, Gillette CR, Cueva D, Wasilewski JA, Enge KM, Johnson SA, Campbell TS, Edwards JR, Rochford MR, Tompkins R, Fobb JL, Mullun S, Lechowicz CJ, Hazelton D, Warren A (2016) New verified nonindigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida through 2015, with a summary of over 152 years of introductions. IRCF Reptil Amphib J 23(2):110–143
LaDeau SL, Kilpatrick AM, Marra PP (2007) West Nile virus emergence and large-scale declines of North American bird populations. Nature 447(7145):710–713. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05829
Lawrence D, Fiegna F, Behrends V, Bundy JG, Phillimore AB, Bell T, Barraclough TG (2012) Species interactions alter evolutionary responses to a novel environment. PLoS Biol 10(5):e1001330. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001330
Leung B, Lodge DM, Finnoff D, Shogren JF, Lewis MA, Lamberti G (2002) An ounce of prevention or a pound of cure: bioeconomic risk analysis of invasive species. Proc R Soc B: Biol Sci 269(1508):2407–2413. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2002.2179
Lodge DM, Williams S, MacIsaac HJ, Hayes KR, Leung B, Reichard S, Mack RN, Moyle PB, Smith M, Andow DA, Carlton JT, McMichael A (2006) Biological invasions: recommendations for U.S. policy and management. Ecol Appl 16(6):2035–2054. https://doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2006)016%5b2035:BIRFUP%5d2.0.CO;2
Loss SR, Will T, Marra PP (2013) The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the U.S. Nat Commun 4:e1396. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms2380
Lundmark C (2003) BioBlitz: getting into backyard biodiversity. BioScience 53(4):329. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2003)053%5b0329:bgibb%5d2.0.co;2
Ma P, Morisette JT, Rodman A, McClure C, Pedelty J, Benson N, Paintner K, Most N, Ullah A, Cai W, Rocca M, Silverman J, Schnase JL (2007) Evaluation of integrating the Invasive Species Forecasting System to support National Park Service decisions on fire management activities and invasive plant species control. Int Geosci Remote Sens Symp. https://doi.org/10.1109/IGARSS.2007.4423342
Maxwell SL, Fuller RA, Brooks TM, Watson JEM (2016) Biodiversity: the ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers. Nature 536:143–145. https://doi.org/10.1038/536143a
McKenzie-Mohr D, Schultz PW (2014) Choosing effective behavior change tools. Soc Mark Q 20(1):35–46. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500413519257
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) (2016) Gene drives on the horizon: advancing science, navigating uncertainty, and aligning research with public values. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. https://doi.org/10.17226/23405
National Invasive Species Council (2016) Management Plan: 2016–2018. Washington, DC
National Invasive Species Council (2018) Management Plan: 2016–2018. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/2016-2018-nisc-management-plan.pdf. Accessed 10 Oct 2019
National Park Service (NPS) (2016) Invasive plant program strategic plan. https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/Plants/publications/IPP_StrategicPlan2014.pdf. Accessed 9 March 2019
National Park Service (NPS) (2018) National Park Service announces plan to address infrastructure needs and improve visitor experience. https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/04-12-2018-entrance-fees.htm Accessed 18 April 2019
National Park System Advisory Board (NPSAB) (2012) Revisiting Leopold: resource stewardship in the National Parks, NPS. https://www.nps.gov/calltoaction/pdf/leopoldreport_2012.pdf. Accessed 9 March 2019
North American Invasive Species Network (2018) Cooperative weed management areas. https://www.naisn.org/cwmamap/. Accessed 5 Oct 2019
Piaggio AJ, Segelbacher G, Seddon PJ, Alphey L, Bennett EL, Carlson RH, Friedman RM, Kanavy D, Phelan R, Redford KH, Rosales M, Slobodian L, Wheeler K (2017) Is it time for synthetic biodiversity conservation? Trends Ecol Evol 32(2):97–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2016.10.016
Pimentel D, Zuniga R, Morrison D (2005) Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the U.S. Ecol Econ 52(3):273-288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.10.002
Rasmussen Report (2016) Americans praise park service, rate number of parks as right. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/august_2016/americans_praise_park_service_rate_number_of_parks_as_right. Accessed 9 March 2019
Redford KH, Brooks TM, Macfarlane NBW, Adams JS (eds) (2019) Genetic frontiers for conservation: an assessment of synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation: technical assessment. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Gland
Resnik JR (2018) Biodiversity under siege, invasive animals and the National Park Service: A state of knowledge report. Natural resource report National Park Service, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate-Biological Resources Management Division—2018/1679. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. https://irma.nps.gov/DataStore/Reference/Profile/2253966. Accessed 18 Apr 2019
Ricciardi A, Blackburn TM, Carlton JT, Dick JTA, Hulme PE, Iacarella JC, Jeschke JM, Liebhold AM, Lockwood JL, MacIsaac HJ, Pjsek P, Richardson DM, Ruiz GM, Simberloff D, Sutherland WJ, Wardle DA, Aldridge DC (2017) Invasion science: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and opportunities. Trends Ecol Evol 32(6):464–474. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.03.007
Schwartz MW, Cook CN, Pressey RL, Pullin AS, Runge MC, Salafsky N, Sutherland WJ, Williamson MA (2018) Decision support frameworks and tools for conservation. Conserv Lett 11(2):e12385. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12385
Shackleton RT, Shackleton CM, Kull C (2019a) The role of invasive species in shaping local livelihoods and well-being: a review. J Environ Manage 229:145–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.05.007
Shackleton RT, Richardson DM, Shackleton CM, Bennett B, Crowley SL, Dehnen-Schmutz K, Estevez RA, Fischer A, Kueffer C, Kull CA, Marchante E, Novoa A, Potgieter LJ, Vaas J, Vaz AS, Larson BMH (2019b) Explaining people’s perceptions of invasive alien species: a conceptual framework. J Environ Manage 229:10–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.04.045
Shafer CL (2012) Chronology of awareness about US national park external threats. Environ Manag 50(6):1098–1110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-012-9946-y
Simberloff D (2017) Biological invasions in the National Parks and in park science. In: Beissinger SR, Ackerly DD, Doremus H, Machlis DE (eds) Science, conservation, and National Parks. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 161–188
United States Department of the Interior (USDOI) (2016) Safeguarding America’s lands and waters from invasive species: a national framework for early detection and rapid response. https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/National%20EDRR%20Framework.pdf. Accessed 9 March 2019
Whitfield PE, Gardner T, Vives SP, Gilligan MR, Courtenay WR Jr, Ray GC, Hare JA (2002) Biological invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans along the Atlantic coast of North America. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 235:289–297. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps235289
Wilcox C (2014) Why are Yellowstone’s elk disappearing? Discover. http://discovermagazine.com/2014/may/16-elk-vanishing-act. Accessed 9 March 2019
Witmer GW, Boyd F, Hillis-Starr Z (2007) The successful eradication of introduced roof rats (Rattus rattus) from Buck Island using diphacinone, followed by an irruption of house mice (Mus musculus). Wildl Res 34(2):108–115. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR06006
RE–N was supported in part by National Science Foundation Award #1617309. We thank J. Dennis for his thoughtful review of a previous version of the manuscript. Kassandra Hardy worked with us to design the graphic for Fig. 1. Alison McClung contributed to the literature review of the manuscript.
Conflicts of interest
Three of the co-authors (DH, EL, and LR) are employed by the National Park Service. The lead author and other co-authors received travel funding from the National Park Service to attend a worksession that informed this manuscript. One of the co-authors (KR) was also funded to coordinate this project.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Disclaimer: The views and conclusions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the National Park Service. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use by the National Park Service.
About this article
Cite this article
Dayer, A.A., Redford, K.H., Campbell, K.J. et al. The unaddressed threat of invasive animals in U.S. National Parks. Biol Invasions 22, 177–188 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02128-0
- Invasive species
- Public lands
- Protected areas
- Land management