Nav: Home

Success and failure of ecological management is highly variable

January 29, 2020

BURLINGTON, VT--What do we really know about reasons attributed to the success or failure of wildlife management efforts? A new study originating out of UVM suggests a disquieting answer: much less than we think.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that ecological systems might contain a lot of inherit randomness that makes them difficult to manage. One of the most difficult parts of managing an invasive species or a fishery is determining whether or not the management strategy was effective. If a management strategy failed to reach some goal, was this because it was the wrong strategy or because of inherit randomness in the system? Perhaps, that particular management strategy would have been the right choice 9 times out of 10 and managers were simply unlucky.

Led by Dr. Easton White from the University of Vermont, in collaboration with scientists in California and Colorado, the study used mathematical models to first demonstrate that there could be high levels of variability in species management outcomes. They then tested these ideas with an experimental invasive species, the flour beetle (Tribolium confusum).

"In nature, we might only have a single study site we are concerned with managing," White says. "This means we typically only have a single replicate under study, making it difficult to determine the ultimate cause of management success or failure. The combination of mathematical models and laboratory experiments provide replication and a measure of ecological management variability."

The team also found that the highest levels of management variability occurred at intermediate levels of management effort. In other words, unless a large amount of effort is used to control a system, we are likely to fail or succeed simply by chance. This is concerning for real systems where we have limited budgets.

"Our results suggest that much of ecological management is bound to succeed or fail simply because of good or bad luck," notes White. "In our experiment we were able to control the laboratory conditions precisely, reducing variability caused by the environment. Thus, we might expect that managing natural systems might lead to higher levels of variability."

The team also investigated the combination of different management strategies. To control the invasive species, they tried direct harvesting and controlling the beetle movement. They found that combinations of strategies, as opposed to only using a single strategy, were often more effective.
-end-
The study can be found at:

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/10/25/1911440116

You can read more about this, and related work, at Easton White's website: https://eastonwhite.github.io/

University of Vermont

Related Invasive Species Articles:

Climate change is impacting the spread of invasive animal species
What factors influence the spread of invasive animal species in our oceans?
Invasive alien species may soon cause dramatic global biodiversity loss
An increase of 20 to 30 per cent of invasive non-native (alien) species would lead to dramatic future biodiversity loss worldwide.
Protected areas worldwide at risk of invasive species
Protected areas across the globe are effectively keeping invasive animals at bay, but the large majority of them are at risk of invasions, finds a involving UCL and led by the Chinese Academy of Science, in a study published in Nature Communications.
Charismatic invasive species have an easier time settling into new habitats
An international study, in which the University of Cordoba participated, assessed the influence of charisma in the handling of invasive species and concluded that the perception people have of them can hinder our control over these species and condition their spread
Invasive species with charisma have it easier
It's the outside that counts: Their charisma has an impact on the introduction and image of alien species and can even hinder their control.
Invasive species that threaten biodiversity on the Antarctic Peninsula are identified
Mediterranean mussels, seaweed and some species of land plants and invertebrates are among the 13 species that are most likely to damage the ecosystems on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Research networks can help BRICS countries combat invasive species
BRICS countries need more networks of researchers dedicated to invasion science if they wish to curb the spread of invasive species within and outside of their borders.
Look out, invasive species: The robots are coming
Researchers published the first experiments to gauge whether biomimetic robotic fish can induce fear-related changes in mosquitofish, aiming to discover whether the highly invasive species might be controlled without toxicants or trapping methods harmful to wildlife.
Monster tumbleweed: Invasive new species is here to stay
A new species of gigantic tumbleweed once predicted to go extinct is not only here to stay -- it's likely to expand its territory.
DNA tests of UK waters could help catch invasive species early
A team of scientists led by the University of Southampton have discovered several artificially introduced species in the coastal waters of southern England, using a technique that could help the early detection of non-native species if adopted more widely.
More Invasive Species News and Invasive Species Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.