Exploring tensions and conflicts in invasive species management: The case of Asian carp

Adam E. Kokotovich, David A. Andow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


There is a growing recognition that scientific and social conflict pervades invasive species management, but there is a need for empirical work that can help better understand these conflicts and how they can be addressed. We examined the tensions and conflicts facing invasive Asian carp management in Minnesota by conducting 16 in-depth interviews with state and federal agency officials, academics, and stakeholders. Interviewees discussed the tensions and conflicts they saw impacting management, their implications, and what could be done to address them. We found three key areas of conflict and tension in Asian carp management: 1) scientific uncertainty concerning the impacts of Asian carp and the efficacy and non-target effects of possible management actions; 2) social uncertainty concerning both the lack of societal agreement on how to respond to Asian carp and the need to avoid acting from apathy and/or fear; and 3) the desired approach to research and management – whether it is informed by “political need” or “biological reality”. Our study of these tensions and conflicts reveals their importance to Asian carp management and to invasive species management, more broadly. We conclude with a discussion of possible ways to address these areas of tension and conflict, including the potential of deliberative, participatory approaches to risk-related decision making and the need to productively engage with apathy and fear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Apathy/fear
  • Asian carp
  • Invasive species management
  • Participation
  • Scientific uncertainty
  • Social uncertainty


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