Conservation Training

The Dilemma for Control of Invasive Species: Incorrect Terms Limit Our Capacity to Respond

December 20, 2023

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Webinar

In a perfect world, definitions of plant responses in the environment are treated as absolutes. Yet we acknowledge the genetic and environmental responses that phenotypes have during evolution, namely plasticity, pose difficulties in decision-making for land managers. Our terminology needs to follow suit to avoid presumptive jargon creating misfits in our understanding for land management. We will examine sets of absolutist, oppositional terminology that obstruct invasive species research, using a native yet invasive species as a framework (Phalaris arundinacea): native/exotic and invasive/non-invasive, etc. By refocusing our lenses, a taxon should be regarded in terms of its capacity to establish and spread and the potential threat(s) it poses to natural and/or managed landscapes. In other words, view each taxon as a species, rather than associated labels that divert its potential to drain resources for potential control. Re-examination for potential control (yes/no) requires that each land-holding interest group (federal, state or provincial; Tribal; local authorities; private landowners) differentially shift their land managers’ perspectives and approaches for control. Regulatory agents will, likewise, need to reformulate particular legislation for control of a native invasive species that had been previously assumed as exotic or foreign in origin.