A participatory method for prioritizing invasive species: Ranking threats to Minnesota's terrestrial ecosystems

A. C. Morey, R. C. Venette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Terrestrial invasive species threaten the integrity of diverse and highly-valued ecosystems. The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) was established by the state of Minnesota to fund research projects aimed at minimizing harms posed by the most threatening terrestrial invasive species to the state's prairies, wetlands, forests, and agriculture. MITPPC used the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to identify and prioritize diverse invasive species threats. We describe how MITPPC tailored AHP to establish its research priorities and highlight major outcomes and challenges with our approach. We found that subject matter experts considered factors associated with the severity of impact from invasion, rather than the potential for invasion, to be the greatest contributors in identifying the most threatening species. Specifically, out of the 17 total criteria identified by the experts to rank species, negative environmental impact was the most influential threat criterion. Currently, narrowleaf cattail, mountain pine beetle, and the causative agent of Dutch elm disease are top threats to Minnesota terrestrial ecosystems. AHP does not handle data-poor situations well; however, it allows for easy incorporation of new information over time for a species without undoing the original framework. The MITPPC prioritization has encouraged interdisciplinary, cross-project synergy among its research projects. Such outcomes, coupled with the transparent and evidence-based decision structure, strengthen the credibility of MITPPC activities with many stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112556
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume290
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The findings and conclusions in this publication are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy. This work was supported by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative and Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources. The authors thank the following expert panelists and student research assistants for their contributions to the prioritization process: Mark Abrahamson, Angie Ambourn, Brian Aukema, Roger Becker, Robert Blanchette, Susan Burks, Val Cervenka, Monika Chandler, Anthony Cortilet, Aaron David, Genevieve Furtner, Matt Hill, Amy Kendig, Robert Koch, Kathryn Kromroy, Rebecca Montgomery, Derik Olson, Melissa Peck, Ashley Reichard, Roxanne Sage, Deborah Samac, Brian Schwingle, and Laura Van Riper. We are also grateful to Diane Larson for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Funding Information:
In Minnesota (U.S.), over 300 terrestrial invasive species are estimated to occur, 1 1 many of which significantly harm the diverse terrestrial systems across the state (e.g., Asplen et al., 2015 ; French and Juzwik, 1999 ; Hale et al., 2006 ; Melchior and Weaver, 2016 ; Ragsdale et al., 2010 ; Rosenberger et al., 2018 ; Van Riper et al., 2010 ). To address the need for invasive species research, the Minnesota Legislature established the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) in 2014, with the mandate to, “research and develop effective measures to prevent and minimize the threats posed by terrestrial invasive plants, other weeds, pathogens, and pests in order to protect the state's prairies, forests, wetlands, and agricultural resources” ( MN, 2014 ). The primary financial support for the MITPPC comes from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a constitutionally-dedicated state fund composed of Minnesota State Lottery proceeds and investment income ( https://www.lccmr.leg.mn ). To achieve its mandate, three primary activities of MITPPC are to prioritize the terrestrial invasive species threatening Minnesota, administer a competitive research grant program for University of Minnesota faculty to address those prioritized species, and ensure the findings of the research it supports are publicly accessible. Of note, the prioritizations of the MITPPC do not supersede regulatory lists or management priorities set by county, state, tribal or other national agencies.

Funding Information:
In Minnesota (U.S.), over 300 terrestrial invasive species are estimated to occur,1 many of which significantly harm the diverse terrestrial systems across the state (e.g., Asplen et al., 2015; French and Juzwik, 1999; Hale et al., 2006; Melchior and Weaver, 2016; Ragsdale et al., 2010; Rosenberger et al., 2018; Van Riper et al., 2010). To address the need for invasive species research, the Minnesota Legislature established the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) in 2014, with the mandate to, ?research and develop effective measures to prevent and minimize the threats posed by terrestrial invasive plants, other weeds, pathogens, and pests in order to protect the state's prairies, forests, wetlands, and agricultural resources? (MN, 2014). The primary financial support for the MITPPC comes from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a constitutionally-dedicated state fund composed of Minnesota State Lottery proceeds and investment income (https://www.lccmr.leg.mn). To achieve its mandate, three primary activities of MITPPC are to prioritize the terrestrial invasive species threatening Minnesota, administer a competitive research grant program for University of Minnesota faculty to address those prioritized species, and ensure the findings of the research it supports are publicly accessible. Of note, the prioritizations of the MITPPC do not supersede regulatory lists or management priorities set by county, state, tribal or other national agencies.The findings and conclusions in this publication are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy. This work was supported by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative and Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources. The authors thank the following expert panelists and student research assistants for their contributions to the prioritization process: Mark Abrahamson, Angie Ambourn, Brian Aukema, Roger Becker, Robert Blanchette, Susan Burks, Val Cervenka, Monika Chandler, Anthony Cortilet, Aaron David, Genevieve Furtner, Matt Hill, Amy Kendig, Robert Koch, Kathryn Kromroy, Rebecca Montgomery, Derik Olson, Melissa Peck, Ashley Reichard, Roxanne Sage, Deborah Samac, Brian Schwingle, and Laura Van Riper. We are also grateful to Diane Larson for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • AHP
  • Analytic hierarchy process
  • Biological invasion
  • Pest risk assessment
  • Prioritization

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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