Development of Ecologically-Based Invasive Plant Management Curriculum for University Audiences

Halley Kartchner


The Great Basin is considered one of the most endangered ecoregions in the United States. One threat facing Great Basin rangelands is the invasion of harmful, non-native plants. These invasive weeds outcompete native plants, degrade wildlife habitat, decrease valuable forage for livestock, and cost millions every year in weed control efforts. In order to restore degraded ecosystems of the Great Basin, it is essential that effective weed management programs are integrated in rangeland management strategies. Traditional management approaches have focused on killing invasive weeds with limited regard to the underlying processes that contributed to the invasion.

Ecologically-based invasive plant management, or EBIPM, is an alternative holistic management approach that aims to understand and manipulate the ecological processes influencing weed invasions, and works to prevent further invasions as well as lll lV to treat areas that are already dominated by invasive weeds. EBIPM combines rangeland health assessment, successional theory, ecological principles, tools and strategies, and adaptive management in a 5-step, decision-making framework for a proactive approach to treating and preventing the spread of invasive weeds. The EBIPM method is arranged in a five step framework.

Outreach and education is an important part of a weed management program like EBIPM, as it helps to create awareness and acceptance among managers, policy makers, and the public. EBIPM outreach and education efforts include: a field school that has been held the past 4 years, field tours to demonstrate new techniques and research, manager guidebooks to teach professionals about the EBIPM process, a high school curriculum, and a website.

In order to inform future land managers about EBIPM, a university curriculum has been created to fit into a wide variety of undergraduate courses. This curriculum is compromised of six modules. The first module provides an overview of the EBIPM decision-making framework. The subsequent five modules are aligned with the five steps in the framework. Each module contains a synoptic reading describing the linkages between ecological concepts and management practices, case studies, in-class and field activities, review questions, additional resources, and a Power Point presentation. Each of the modules was reviewed and assessed by a weed ecologist, outreach education specialist, and a media specialist. The curriculum is posted online for access by university students and educators.