Invasive species are one of the most prominent drivers of global environmental change. Their influence on Indiana ecosystems is projected to expand as climate change increases habitat suitability for multiple species. Most invasive species research solely employs natural science theory and methods, yet efforts to address invasive species issues have failed because the social context was poorly understood. Understanding collective action—efforts by groups or representatives to improve group conditions—is often important.
Indiana’s cooperative invasive species management areas (CISMAs) represent an opportunity to explore collective action outcomes related to invasive species. Institute Research Fellow Abigail Sullivan’s research engages non-profit organizations and CISMAs in observations, interviews, and social surveys to understand the variation in social-ecological contexts and outcomes related to collective invasive species management across Indiana.
Many important questions remain in invasive species management, including what people will consider “invasive” as species expand into new regions with climate change. Eventually, people may consider managing species based on diverse values, instead of their native status. Sullivan’s work will help inform future efforts to address new and existing biological invasions by advancing dialogue on these issues, providing a better understanding of the values tied to management decisions, and describing how these values influence the success of collective management.