Optimal dynamic control of invasions: applying a systematic conservation approach
Adams, VM and Setterfield, SA, Optimal dynamic control of invasions: applying a systematic conservation approach, Ecological Applications, 25, (4) pp. 1131-1141. ISSN 1051-0761 (2015) [Refereed Article]
The social, economic, and environmental impacts of invasive plants are well recognized. However, these variable impacts are rarely accounted for in the spatial prioritization of funding for weed management. We examine how current spatially explicit prioritization methods can be extended to identify optimal budget allocations to both eradication and control measures of invasive species to minimize the costs and likelihood of invasion. Our framework extends recent approaches to systematic prioritization of weed management to account for multiple values that are threatened by weed invasions with a multi-year dynamic prioritization approach. We apply our method to the northern portion of the Daly catchment in the Northern Territory, which has significant conservation values that are threatened by gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus), a highly invasive species recognized by the Australian government as a Weed of National Significance (WONS). We interface Marxan, a widely applied conservation planning tool, with a dynamic biophysical model of gamba grass to optimally allocate funds to eradication and control programs under two budget scenarios comparing maximizing gain (MaxGain) and minimizing loss (MinLoss) optimization approaches. The prioritizations support previous findings that a MinLoss approach is a better strategy when threats are more spatially variable than conservation values. Over a 10-year simulation period, we find that a MinLoss approach reduces future infestations by ∼8% compared to MaxGain in the constrained budget scenarios and ∼12% in the unlimited budget scenarios. We find that due to the extensive current invasion and rapid rate of spread, allocating the annual budget to control efforts is more efficient than funding eradication efforts when there is a constrained budget. Under a constrained budget, applying the most efficient optimization scenario (control, minloss) reduces spread by ∼27% compared to no control. Conversely, if the budget is unlimited it is more efficient to fund eradication efforts and reduces spread by ∼65% compared to no control.