• Social dimensions of invasive plant management: an Alaska case study

      Callear, Tara L.; Fix, Pete; Brinkman, Todd; Graziano, Gino (2018-05)
      Uncertainty pervades attempts to identify an efficient management response to the threat of invasive plants. Sources of uncertainty include the paucity of data, measurement errors, variable invasiveness, and unpredictable impacts of the control methods. Rather than relying on this uncertain evidence from the natural sciences, land managers are taking a more participatory approach to invasive plant management to help alleviate risk and share the responsibility of implementation of proactive control and eradication strategies. This research is intended to contribute to this process of social learning by revealing the beliefs that determine stakeholder management preferences in a case study involving an infestation of Vicia cracca (bird vetch) affecting public lands, north of the Arctic Circle, along the Dalton Highway in Alaska. Possible encroachment of this "highly invasive" species upon vulnerable areas of high conservation significance in this rapidly changing, boreal-arctic system has motivated some stakeholders to advocate an aggressive, early response aimed at eradication using herbicides. This case study applies social-psychological theory in the study of the interactions between human behavior and human outcomes. Interior Alaska stakeholders were engaged in a survey to measure support for a scenario involving the use of herbicides to control the highly-invasive species, Vicia cracca (bird vetch), which has spread north along a road corridor north of the Arctic Circle. Respondents were asked a series of questions about the "likelihood" and "acceptability" of the possible outcomes. The survey results aligned with the expectation that attitudes predict management preference, however the beliefs that influence these attitudes were more complicated than expected. The results address the feedbacks anticipated between the human outcomes and human behavior in the social template within the broader system context that are critical to management success. The purpose is to utilize the results of this specific case study to facilitate the development of ongoing research questions that are generalizable to other affected boreal-arctic ecosystems, regionally and globally.