Young, Steve

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

If the goal of my program is to develop better management practices for weedy and invasive plant species, then the question that needs to be asked is, what type of practices are being referred to in this context? If the answer is sustainable practices, then it is imperative that we know the underlying mechanisms of how and why weedy and invasive plants exist, where they exist, and the conditions in which they exist. Knowing the mechanisms will allow us to design and deliver the most sustainable strategies for managing weedy and invasive plant species. In addition to developing ecologically-based plant management strategies, successful implementation of these strategies is reliant on landowner or land manager adoption. Without combining these two, integrated weed management will ultimately fail (e.g., herbicide resistance, invasive species).How can we better influence land owners and managers to adopt ecologically-based strategies? Is it by adding value to invasive plant control through grazing studies or exploratory research on biofuels from invasive plants? Will it be from more educational activities, like the new North American Invasive Plant Ecology and Management Short Course? Is it through secondary school student programs, such as Invasive Plant Camps and edutainment tools that exposes our youth to the science of invasive plant species at an early age? In cropping systems, how do we make it clear that relying on one tool for weed control by one grower can have negative consequences not only for his farm, but for neighboring farms and farms across a region? These questions must be considered if any improvements can be made for answering the toughest weedy and invasive plant questions. Finally, how are weedy and invasive plant species part of the larger (agro) ecosystem that is under our management? Ecosystems are connected, yet the management of them is still very disconnect and often random. How can the science and public education that we are doing be used to shape local, state and national policy? Can the contributions of weedy and invasive plant species to ecosystem services be quantified to garner the attention and resources of private and public institutions, which have an influence on the policy and regulatory process? Can we take the science directly to the decision makers? What are the issues that they are most concerned about and how do weedy and invasive plant species relate to these areas? These questions touch on some of the important topics that will shape my research program on weedy and invasive weed plant ecology and management..