Allocation of invasive plant management expenditures for conservation: lessons from Florida, USA.
Although the ecological impacts of biological invasions are well studied, comprehensive analyses of spending on invasive species management are lacking. Such analyses could inform both effective resource allocation and management planning. We evaluated long-term invasive plant management expenditures and their potential geographic, economic, and ecological drivers for freshwater and terrestrial conservation areas in Florida, USA. Average expenditures for managing invaders were approximately US$45M annually, with over 90% of funding provided by the state. Our model showed that expenditures were best predicted by the prevalence of waterways and abundance of invaders, indicating that funding was allocated towards asset protection in highly invaded aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Higher spending was directly correlated with reduced area invaded for the costliest invader (Hydrilla verticillata, ~$10M/year), demonstrating management efficacy and constructive use of resources. Our study highlights that significant funding is required to manage plant invaders in Florida and that greater funding would likely limit the extent of invasions. Additional analyses of management cost-effectiveness for Florida and other regions would benefit from consistent collection and reporting of high-resolution management data. Given the exponential rate of spread of many invaders, additional and sustained management funding is needed for early detection and rapid, effective control of invasive species.