Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Washington
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Thompson BK, SJ Converse and JD Olden. 2021. Mechanistic invasive species management models and their application in conservation. Conservation Science and Practice 3:e533.


Management strategies to address the challenges associated with invasive species are critical for effective conservation. An increasing variety of mathematical models offer insight into invasive populations, and can help managers identify cost effective prevention, control, and eradication actions. Despite this, as model complexity grows, so does the inaccessibility of these tools to conservation practitioners making decisions about management. Here, we seek to narrow the science-practice gap by reviewing invasive species management models (ISMMs). We define ISMMs as mechanistic models used to explore invasive species management strategies, and include reaction-advection-diffusion models, integrodifference equations, gravity models, particle transport models, non-spatial and spatial discrete-time population growth models, cellular automata, and individual-based models. For each approach, we describe the model framework and its implementation, discuss strengths and weaknesses, and give examples of conservation applications. We conclude by discussing how ISMMs can be used in concert with adaptive management to address scientific uncertainties impeding action and with multiple objective decision processes to evaluate tradeoffs among management objectives. We undertook this review to support more effective decision-making involving invasive species by providing conservation practitioners with the information they need to identify tools most useful for their applications.