2016 Current Issue

Managing Invasive Species

(Link to Mass Envirothon 2016 Current Issue Guide 2.0)

The spread of species to new regions has been an essential feature of biological evolution and the development of ecological communities. In the past century, however, the magnitude of the change – in terms of numbers of species, rapidity of spread, and geographic area – has increased dramatically. Human activity has played a large role, and the ecological disruption has been significant.

Species invasions that cause economic, damage ecological processes, and harm human health have been identified as a widespread and urgent environmental issue by scientists and resource managers.

No place, particularly in an urbanized state like Massachusetts, is unaffected. Governments at all levels have mobilized to address the issues.

But species invasions and rapidly changing ecosystems are only one aspect of the accelerating change we are experiencing. They are not a problem to be solved alone.

The Mass Envirothon 2016 Current Issue challenges teams to investigate this important environmental issue as it occurs in their communities. Teams will do field research, develop recommendations, and present their findings to a panel of judges at the Envirothon competition in May.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

* Managing Invasive Species: Background and Strategies for Community Research, produced by Mass Envirothon, provides specific guidance on investigating the issue in our own Massachusetts communities. This guide will provide the primary basis for the presentation problem and judging criteria at the May competition.

In the Massachusetts guide you will find:

  • Links to large websites with plenty of introduction and background material for the public.
  • Best management practices that save time and money and target the most important problems
  • Critical perspectives on invasive species, including: invasive species and their management in the larger context of global change, the concept of “novel ecosystems”, and invasive species in the urban environment
  • How to get started on your research in your Massachusetts community

* 2016_Mass_Envirothon_Current_Issue_Problem

* 2016_Scoresheet

* Judging_Guidelines

* A Study guide and Learning Objectives on Invasive Species: A Challenge to the Environment, Economy, and Society has been prepared by Ontario Envirothon, host of this year’s NCF North American Envirothon competition.

Some topics in the Ontario guide:

  • What makes a good invader?
  • Invasive species in ecosystems
  • Pathways of introduction and spread
  • The invasive species management cycle
  • Roles and responsibilities of government, NGOs, citizen science
  • Monitoring, risk assessment, and other management options


* Several presentations from Mass Envirothon’s fall workshop at UMass Amherst (11.4.15) are also available here:


Questions about the 2016 Envirothon Current Issue?  Contact Will Snyder, UMass Extension, at wsnyder@umext.umass.edu