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Anastasia P. Maines
Graduate Student
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado at Boulder
Response to Plant Invasion: Managing Spotted Knapweed

This interrupted case study provides students with an opportunity to compare and contrast methods for controlling spotted knapweed, an invasive species in the United States that has raised considerable concern in western pastures and rangeland. Students first work in small groups to create a provisional adaptive management plan for the control of this plant by identifying various stakeholders and considering possible costs and benefits. They then revise their plan after examining various graphs and data drawn from the primary literature. This process of revision should give students an appreciation for the complexity involved in developing an adaptive management plan and underscore the importance of long-term monitoring of results. Although developed for an upper-division undergraduate ecosystem management course, this case could also be used in an ecology or general biology course to demonstrate applications of ecological research, the scientific method in management, or management of invasive species. It could also be adapted for a high school class.