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The social dimensions of invasive plants


Invasive plants pose a major environmental management issue. Research into the social dimensions of this issue has flourished over the past decade, as part of the critical examination of relations between human and nonhuman worlds. The social sciences and humanities have made substantial contributions to conceptualizing invasiveness and nativeness; understanding the perceptions, attitudes and values of diverse stakeholders; and analysing the politics and practices of invasive plant management. Cultural analysis allows areas of conflict and commonality to be identified. Social complexity must be added to ecological complexity to understand the causal relationships underlying invasions; and linear understandings of science–policy relationships are too simplistic. Productive connections have been established between recent social and natural science approaches in the context of rapid environmental change and unpredictable futures. Nonetheless, the prevalence of human exceptionalism in the ecological sciences constitutes a major point of divergence between social and natural science perspectives.

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Funding was provided by the Australian Research Council (FL0992397). I am grateful to many colleagues who have discussed these issues over the years, particularly J. Atchison, N. Gill and D. Trigger. Thanks to T. Roberts and I. Aguirre-Bielschowsky for assistance with literature searches.

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Head, L. The social dimensions of invasive plants. Nature Plants 3, 17075 (2017).

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