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Response to Plant Invasion

Managing Spotted Knapweed


Anastasia P. Maines
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado at Boulder


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.

  • Use principles of experimental design to develop an adaptive management plan.
  • Use research results to inform management decisions.
  • Describe four to five methods for controlling invasive plants.
  • Analyze the costs/benefits of management strategies.
  • Identify stakeholder interests in a land management decision.
  • Revise and defend a management plan based on scientific results and stakeholder concerns.
Keywords: Adaptive management; spotted knapweed; Centaurea stoebe; invasive plants; biological control; herbicide; ecosystem management; Cyphocleonus achates; Larinus minutus
Topical Area: Policy issues, Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Ecology   Natural Resource Management   Environmental Science   Botany / Plant Science   Biology (General)  
Date Posted: 4/9/2013
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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