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What to do when invaders are out of control?

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Abstract Biological invasions threaten species and ecosystems worldwide. Impacts from invasions are especially prevalent in freshwaters, where managers have struggled to contain the problem. Conventional approaches to managing invaders focus on prevention and control. In practice, these measures have proven to be variably effective. Control or eradication of established invaders is particularly difficult and, even if ecologically feasible, it may not be socially desirable. Here we propose a new alternative to managing invasive species: managing impact modifiers (MIM). The MIM approach focuses on managing impacts, rather than controlling the invader directly. We reviewed the literature for the world's worst invasive fishes in freshwaters to show there is strong evidence to support the potential for MIM as an effective means of managing impacts of invasions. This included evidence pointing to characteristics of the environment or species themselves that modify impacts of invasions. Detail of three case studies reinforces the potential for MIM as a viable option. Although MIM appears promising, effective application could involve significant investment in an information gathering phase to identify impact modifiers and the means to manage them. Accordingly, MIM is best incorporated into management plans that include a strong learning or adaptive component. Ultimately, MIM may be one of the only viable alternatives for managing invasive species that are truly out of control. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Overview of the invasion process and associated management responses (Modified from Sakai et al. (2001); Kolar & Lodge (2002); Simberloff et al. (2013); Vander Zanden et al. (2010); Arismendi et al. (2014)). Conventional approaches to managing invasions follow up to the establishment stage. Managing impact modifiers (MIM) follows as an alternative after establishment (although it may be applied proactively)
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Migratory Bull Trout en‐route to spawning grounds in the Wigwam River, Alberta, Canada (photograph by Joel Sartore, provided courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
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Smallmouth Bass, a popular species among anglers and a common invader in western North American streams and lakes (photograph by Eric Enbritsen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
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Deer Creek, California, a relatively undisturbed tributary of the upper Sacramento River studied by Baltz and Moyle (1993; photograph by Steve Matarano, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
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Overview of physical and biotic factors identified in a search of the literature for potential impact modifiers associated with eight invasive fishes (see Supplement 2 for details)
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Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems

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