Handling overheads: optimal multi-method invasive species control

Abstract

Invasive species are a pervasive problem worldwide and considerable resources are directed towards their control. While there are many aspects to invasive species management, deciding how to allocate resources effectively when removing them is critical. There are often multiple control methods available, each with different characteristics. For example aerial baiting has very high overhead costs, while animal trapping incurs a handling time (the trap must be reset after each capture). Here, we examine a particular challenge that managers commonly face when designing eradication programmes—specifically what type of control measure to rely on at different times during the eradication effort? We solve for optimal resource allocation strategies when there are two control methods available and one has overhead costs and the other has a handling time. We find that, if both controls are being used, the control with overhead costs should be used only at the beginning of a project, the other control should be used in the latter part of the project, and that there is generally an overlap where both controls are used. This contrasts with the strategies employed in many eradication projects, where ground control does not begin until aerial baiting has ceased.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Michael Bode and Michael McCarthy for their input. Christopher Baker is the recipient of a John Stocker Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund. This work was assisted by attendance as a Short-term Visitor at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, an Institute sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.

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Correspondence to Christopher M. Baker.

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Baker, C.M., Armsworth, P.R. & Lenhart, S.M. Handling overheads: optimal multi-method invasive species control. Theor Ecol 10, 493–501 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12080-017-0344-1

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Keywords

  • Optimal control
  • Overhead cost
  • Handling time
  • Optimal control theory
  • Ecological economics