A review of operations research models in invasive species management: state of the art, challenges, and future directions

I. Esra Büyüktahtakın, Robert G. Haight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Invasive species are a major threat to the economy, the environment, health, and thus human well-being. The international community, including the United Nations’ Global Invasive Species Program (GISP), National Invasive Species Council (NISC), and Center for Invasive Species Management (CISM), has called for a rapid control of invaders in order to minimize their adverse impacts. The effective management of invasive species is a highly complex problem requiring the development of decision tools that help managers prioritize actions most efficiently by considering corresponding bio-economic costs, impacts on ecosystems, and benefits of control. Operations research methods, such as mathematical programming models, are powerful tools for evaluating different management strategies and providing optimal decisions for allocating limited resources to control invaders. In this paper, we summarize the mathematical models applied to optimize invasive species prevention, surveillance, and control. We first define key concepts in invasive species management (ISM) in a framework that characterizes biological invasions, associated economic and environmental costs, and their management. We then present a spatio-temporal optimization model that illustrates various biological and economic aspects of an ISM problem. Next, we classify the relevant literature with respect to modeling methods: optimal control, stochastic dynamic programming, linear programming, mixed-integer programming, simulation models, and others. We further classify the ISM models with respect to the solution method used, their focus and objectives, and the specific application considered. We discuss limitations of the existing research and provide several directions for further research in optimizing ISM planning. Our review highlights the fact that operations research could play a key role in ISM and environmental decision-making, in particular closing the gap between the decision-support needs of managers and the decision-making tools currently available to management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-403
Number of pages47
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • Biological invasions
  • Decision-support tools
  • Ecology
  • Invasive species management
  • Mathematical models
  • Operations research
  • Optimization
  • Review
  • Solution methods


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