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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #352552

Research Project: Biological Control and Community Restoration Strategies for Invasive Weed Control in the Northern Great Plains Rangelands

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Considering weed management as a social dilemma bridges individual and collective interests

item GRAHAM, SONIA - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item ZHAO, MA - Purdue University
item BARNEY, JACOB - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item COUTTS, S - University Of Sheffield
item CAICEDO, ANA - Massachusetts Cooperative Fish And Wildlife Research Unit
item DE CLERCK-FLOATE, R - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item West, Natalie
item BLANK, L - Volcani Center (ARO)
item METCALF, ALEXANDER - University Of Montana
item LACOSTE, M - University Of Western Australia
item MORENO, C - College Of Wooster
item Evans, Jeffrey
item BURKE, I - Washington State University
item BECKIE, H - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada

Submitted to: Nature Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/28/2019
Publication Date: 4/8/2019
Citation: Bagavathiannan, M.V., Graham, S., Zhao, M., Barney, J.N., Coutts, S.R., Caicedo, A., De Clerck-Floate, R., West, N.M., Blank, L., Metcalf, A.L., Lacoste, M., Moreno, C., Evans, J.A., Burke, I., Beckie, H. 2019. Considering weed management as a social dilemma bridges individual and collective interests. Nature Plants. 5:343-351.

Interpretive Summary: Weeds pose severe problems in agricultural and natural landscapes worldwide, and we continue to struggle with strategies to effectively address weed issues at landscape scales. One roadblock to improvement is that management guidelines and decision-making is focused at the individual and farm-level. In this paper, we use four case studies to demonstrate how landscape-scale weed control presents a social dilemma, where trade-offs occur between individual and collective interests, and how design principles from social science might be employed to address weed issues. We present our case studies as public good problems, and demonstrate how strategies developed for common pool resources can be adapted to address these challenges, and to identify context-species principles that can improve the success and sustainability of weed management.

Technical Abstract: Weeds (including invasive plants) pose severe threats to ecosystems worldwide and continue to expand in agricultural and natural landscapes. We argue that one of the major reasons for our failure to effectively manage weeds at landscape scales is that current Best Management Practice guidelines, and research on how to improve such guidelines, prioritize individual weed management decision-making. For instance, weed control is typically focused at the farm-level, rather than on collective practices at the landscape-level. Here, we frame landscape-scale weed control as a social dilemma, where trade-offs occur between individual and collective interests. We apply a holistic, transdisciplinary approach — involving ecologists, evolutionary biologists, weed managers, and social scientists — to four important weed management challenges: achieving biosecurity, preventing weed seed contamination, maintaining herbicide susceptibility, and sustainable use of biological control. We argue that these four challenges should be viewed as public good problems, wherein effective weed management requires the cooperation of multiple actors, but the consumption of service by one actor does not reduce nor exclude the benefits and services enjoyed by others. Furthermore, we contend that strategies to address these public good challenges might be framed using only a subset of the eight design principles developed by Elinor Ostrom for common pool resource governance. This paper is a call to action for scholars and practitioners to conceptualize and address weed management problems as public goods challenges and to identify context-specific design principles to improve the success and sustainability of weed management.