Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/13/2010
Publication Date: 11/3/2010
Citation: Sheley, R.L., James, J.J., Smith, B.S., Vasquez, E.A. 2010. Applying ecologically-based invasive plant management. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 63:605-613.
Interpretive Summary: Land managers need a decision process that predicts vegetation change, guides the implementation of restoration, and fosters adaptive management. We developed a practical framework that allows managers to easily understand the linkages among ecological process, vegetation dynamics, management practices, and assessment. This holistic decision-making framework directs users through a logical process using the Rangeland Health Assessment, ecological theory, principles of ecology, and adaptive management to design state-of-the-art integrated plant management programs.
Technical Abstract: The need for a unified mechanistic ecological framework that improves our ability to make decisions, predict vegetation change, guides the implementation of restoration, and fosters learning is substantial and unmet. It is becoming increasing clear that integrating various types of ecological models into an overall framework has great promise for assisting the decision-making in invasive plant management and restoration. Overcoming the barriers to adoption of ecologically-based invasive plant management (EBIPM) will require that principles be developed and integrated into a useful format so land managers can easily understand the linkages among ecological processes, vegetation dynamics, management practices, and assessment. We have amended a generally accepted and well-tested successional management framework to provide a comprehensive decision-tool for EBIPM by 1) using the Rangeland Health Assessment to identify ecological processes in need of repair, 2) amending our framework to include principles for repairing ecological processes that direct vegetation dynamics, and 3) incorporating adaptive management procedures to foster the acquisition of new information during management. This model integrates assessment and adaptive management with process-based principles that provide the direction to successfully apply tools and techniques. In our study example, EBIPM increased the chance of restoration success by 66 percent over traditionally applied integrated weed management in an invasive plant dominated ephemeral wetland ecosystem. We believe that this framework provides the basis for EBIPM and will enhance our ability to design and implement sustainable invasive plant management and restoration programs.