Early engagement of stakeholders with individual-based modelling can inform research for improving invasive species management: the round goby as a case study

Emma Samson, Philipp E. Hirsch, Stephen C. Palmer, Jane Behrens, Justin M. Travis

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Individual-based models (IBMs) incorporating realistic representations of key range-front processes such as dispersal can be used as tools to investigate the dynamics of invasive species. Managers can apply insights from these models to take effective action to prevent further spread and prioritize measures preventing establishment of invasive species. We highlight here how early-stage IBMs (constructed under constraints of time and data availability) can also play an important role in defining key research priorities for providing key information on the biology of an invasive species in order that subsequent models can provide robust insight into potential management interventions. The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, is currently spreading through the Baltic Sea, with major negative effects being reported in the wake of its invasion. Together with stakeholders, we parameterize an IBM to investigate the goby's potential spread pattern throughout the Gulf of Gdansk and the Baltic Sea. Model parameters were assigned by integrating information obtained through stakeholder interaction, from scientific literature, or estimated using an inverse modeling approach when not available. IBMs can provide valuable direction to research on invasive species even when there is limited data and/or time available to parameterize/fit them to the degree to which we might aspire in an ideal world. Co-development of models with stakeholders can be used to recognize important invasion patterns, in addition to identifying and estimating unknown environmental parameters, thereby guiding the direction of future research. Well-parameterized and validated models are not required in the earlier stages of the modeling cycle where their main utility is as a tool for thought
Original languageEnglish
Article number149
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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