The social-ecological system driving effective invasive plant management: two case studies of non-native Phragmites.
Globally, the management of invasive plants is motivated by a desire to improve ecosystem services (e.g., recreation, flood mitigation, soil fertility for agriculture, aesthetics) and critical habitat for imperiled species. To reduce invader populations and impacts, it is important to document the social and ecological basis (i.e., the social-ecological system) for the management that has been employed and areas where a greater level of coordination among stakeholder groups (managers, scientists, legislators, resource users) could improve efforts. We present a conceptual model that builds on current thinking for how best to connect these four stakeholder groups-to foster stronger citizen lobbying for impacted resources, science-based governance, legislator-driven noxious weed laws and funding for management and science, knowledge co-production by scientists and managers, and co-management by managers and resource users. In light of our model, we present two case studies based in Nebraska and Utah, U.S.A. involving a common North American wetland invader, Phragmites australis (non-native common reed). In Nebraska, potential lawsuits stemming from water conveyance was strong motivation for funding management. In Utah, duck hunters and other resource users initially instigated management. Progress toward the successful management of Phragmites has been the result of manager-scientist partnerships addressing a knowing-doing gap among practitioners, the complexities of management mosaics, as well as overcoming economic and logistical constraints. Our model demonstrates how legislative initiatives can fund new research and bolster on-going management, while organically building strong partnerships among scientists, managers, and resource users that are key for successfully managing invasive species.