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

Couch, C.C., J.T. Peterson, and P. H. Heimowitz. 2023. Evaluating the institutional and ecological effects of invasive species prevention policy: a case study from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Management of Biological Invasions 14(2).


Wildlife and natural resource institutions play key roles in invasive species monitoring and management. Paradoxically, the extensive fieldwork undertaken by these institutions and their partners may result in the inadvertent movement and spread of invasive species within and between sensitive ecosystems. Internal guidelines and policies designed to prevent the spread of invasive species by management institutions and their partners could therefore be high-leverage tools for invasive species prevention. However, as large, complex organizations seek to implement policies to limit the spread of invasive species, they may face challenges related to accommodating the wide diversity of programs, activities, and ecosystems they manage. Prevention policies may also be met with resistance due to the costs of implementation unless concrete benefits can be demonstrated. Assessing and communicating the effects of prevention policies could motivate improved implementation and adherence by institutional units and partners and could help inform adaptive policy changes. However, assessing the effectiveness of invasive species prevention presents a unique set of challenges, including incomplete data on invasive species distribution and pathways, that make it difficult to measure the effects of prevention efforts. In this work, we present a conceptual framework for evaluating institutional policies for invasive species prevention. We describe a flexible, multifaceted approach that considers policy implementation and adherence as well as ecological outcomes. We discuss potential application of this framework using a policy recently implemented by Interior Regions 9 and 12 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a case study.​​​​