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A participatory method for prioritizing invasive species: Ranking threats to Minnesota's terrestrial ecosystems

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Morey, A.C. ; Venette, R.C.

Year Published



Journal of Environmental Management


Terrestrial invasive species threaten the integrity of diverse and highly-valued ecosystems. The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) was established by the state of Minnesota to fund research projects aimed at minimizing harms posed by the most threatening terrestrial invasive species to the state's prairies, wetlands, forests, and agriculture. MITPPC used the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to identify and prioritize diverse invasive species threats. We describe how MITPPC tailored AHP to establish its research priorities and highlight major outcomes and challenges with our approach. We found that subject matter experts considered factors associated with the severity of impact from invasion, rather than the potential for invasion, to be the greatest contributors in identifying the most threatening species. Specifically, out of the 17 total criteria identified by the experts to rank species, negative environmental impact was the most influential threat criterion. Currently, narrowleaf cattail, mountain pine beetle, and the causative agent of Dutch elm disease are top threats to Minnesota terrestrial ecosystems. AHP does not handle data-poor situations well; however, it allows for easy incorporation of new information over time for a species without undoing the original framework. The MITPPC prioritization has encouraged interdisciplinary, cross-project synergy among its research projects. Such outcomes, coupled with the transparent and evidence-based decision structure, strengthen the credibility of MITPPC activities with many stakeholders.


Analytic hierarchy process; AHP; Pest risk assessment; Biological invasion; Prioritization


Morey, A.C.; Venette, R.C. 2021. A participatory method for prioritizing invasive species: Ranking threats to Minnesota's terrestrial ecosystems. Journal of Environmental Management. 290: 112556. 10 p.

Last updated on: August 2, 2021