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S58. Natural Resource Economist for improving invasive species management


Closing Date: May 28, 2021

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.


The impacts of invasive species within the United States are vast, and their effects are felt within the borders of all states and territories. Losses to the U.S. economy due to invasive species are estimated at over $100 billion annually (Pimentel et al. 2005); however, the cumulative added costs of managing invasive species (e.g., prevention, control, eradication) and losses to non-market valued resources (e.g., species of conservation concern, landscapes, ecosystems) are largely unknown (Pimentel et al. 2005). Economic analyses are needed to quantify these costs and losses and integrate them into management decisions to allow resource management a holistic view to allocate limited resources. To optimize strategies for invasive species management and resource allocation, ecological, economic, and social responses to potential policies must be evaluated (Epanchin-Niell 2017). The realized impacts of invasive species are not distributed evenly among stakeholders, and impacts may be magnified through inequities in economic and social status.  Input from economic analyses can provide quantitative estimates supporting management objectives that aim to represent stakeholder values equitably. The interdisciplinary approach of natural resource economics provides managers tools to understand and evaluate environmental policies' design, allowing them to identify those that best achieve ecological and social objectives.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (WARC) seeks a postdoctoral fellow (a term position with USGS) to collaborate with USGS scientists researching invasive species and other conservation and restoration issues. The fellow's research would focus on the valuation of natural resources and ecosystem services impacted by invasive species and the cost and benefits of management actions. The research should combine natural resource economics, ecological modeling, and decision theory to support management decisions pertaining to the prevention, control, eradication, and monitoring and impacts of invasive species (Epanchin-Niell 2017, Johnson et al. 2017). The position will emphasize the development and application of decision analysis tools for invasive species management (Epanchin-Niell 2017, Johnson et al. 2017). Although invasive species management would be the primary emphasis for the fellowship, the scientist's research and methodologies would be applicable for other natural resource management applications (e.g., conservation and restoration actions and costs).

The fellow would work with USGS biologists, hydrologists, climatologists, and ecological modelers to develop scientific research applications to apply principles of natural resource economics and decision analysis on high profile invasive species management problems. Potential research questions can include: what are the costs and benefits of eradicating or controlling an established species with respect to harm to the environment, human health and safety, cultural resources, recreation, infrastructure, and the economy; how to identify the most cost-effective methods to manage invasive species; what is the return of investment of management actions (e.g., prevention vs. control); or what is the real cost of an invasion (evaluating ecological, economic, and human health impacts)? The fellow would be involved in organizing and coaching prototyping workshops, in which subject matter experts and resource managers would work on analyzing invasive species management problems. The ultimate products could consist of decision support tools or models that incorporating natural resource economic information to help resource managers with their decisions. Ideally, the fellow would have a background in natural resource economics, quantitative skills, and a good understanding of ecological systems.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas.


Epanchin-Niell, R.S. (2017) Economics of invasive species policy and management. Biological Invasions 19: 3333–3354

Johnson, F.A., Smith, B. J., Bonneau, M., Martin, J., Romagosa, C., Mazzotti, F., Waddle, H., Reed, R.N., Ketterlin Eckles, J., Vitt, L.J. (2017) Expert elicitation, uncertainty, and the value of information in controlling invasive species. Ecological Economics 137: 83–90.

Pimentel, D., Zuniga, R., Morrison, D. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics 52(3): 273-288.

Proposed Duty Station: Gainesville, Florida

Areas of PhD: Biology, fish and wildlife management, economics, environmental economics, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications:  Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Economist or Research Ecologist.

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Human Resources Office Contact:  Audrey Tsujita, 916-278-9395,