What to do when invaders are out of control?
Biological invasions threaten species and ecosystems worldwide. Impacts from invasions are especially prevalent in freshwaters, where managers have struggled to contain the problem. Conventional approaches to managing invaders focus on prevention and control. In practice, these measures have proven to be variably effective. Control or eradication of established invaders is particularly difficult and, even if ecologically feasible, it may not be socially desirable. Here we propose a new alternative to managing invasive species: managing impact modifiers (MIM). The MIM approach focuses on managing impacts, rather than controlling the invader directly. We reviewed the literature for the world's worst invasive fishes in freshwaters to show there is strong evidence to support the potential for MIM as an effective means of managing impacts of invasions. This included evidence pointing to characteristics of the environment or species themselves that modify impacts of invasions. Detail of three case studies reinforces the potential for MIM as a viable option. Although MIM appears promising, effective application could involve significant investment in an information gathering phase to identify impact modifiers and the means to manage them. Accordingly, MIM is best incorporated into management plans that include a strong learning or adaptive component. Ultimately, MIM may be one of the only viable alternatives for managing invasive species that are truly out of control.