Translational invasion ecology: bridging research and practice to address one of the greatest threats to biodiversity
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Abstract: Effective natural resource management and policy is contingent on information generated by research. Conversely, the applicability of research depends on whether it is responsive to the needs and constraints of resource managers and policy makers. However, many scientific fields including invasion ecology suffer from a disconnect between research and practice. Despite strong socio-political imperatives, evidenced by extensive funding dedicated to addressing invasive species, the pairing of invasion ecology with stakeholder needs to support effective management and policy is lacking. As a potential solution, we propose translational invasion ecology (TIE). As an extension of translational ecology, as a framework to increase collaboration among scientists, practitioners, and policy makers to reduce negative impacts of invasive species. As an extension of translational ecology, TIE is an approach that embodies an intentional and inclusive process in which researchers, stakeholders, and decision makers collaborate to develop and implement ecological research via joint consideration of the ecological, sociological, economic, and/or political contexts in order to improve invasive species management. TIE ideally results in improved outcomes as well as shared benefits between researchers and managers. We delineate the steps of our proposed TIE approach and describe successful examples of ongoing TIE projects from the US and internationally. We suggest practical ways to begin incorporating TIE into research and management practices, including supporting boundary-spanning organizations and activities, expanding networks, sharing translational experiences, and measuring outcomes. We find that there is a need for strengthened boundary spanning, as well as funding and recognition for advancing translational approaches. As climate change and globalization exacerbate invasive species impacts, TIE provides a promising approach to generate actionable ecological research while improving outcomes of invasive species management and policy decisions.