Modern weed science is at a crossroads. Born out of advances in chemistry, it has focused on minimizing weed competition with genetically uniform crops and heavy reliance on herbicides. Paradoxically, the success obtained with such an approach and the reluctance to conduct integrated and multidisciplinary research has resulted in unintended, but predictable, consequences, including the selection of herbicide resistant biotypes. Advances in eco-evolutionary biology, a relatively recent discipline that seeks to understand how local population dynamics arise from phenotypic variation resulting from natural selection, habitat distribution, and propagule dispersal across the landscape are transforming our understanding of the processes that regulate agroecosystems. Within this framework, complementary tactics to develop alternative weed management programs include the following: (1) weed scientists must recognize that evolution occurs within crop fields at ecologically-relevant time scales and is rooted in the inherent variation that exists in all populations; (2) weed management should recognize that the probability of a resistant mutant is directly related to the population size; (3) farmers need to acknowledge that herbicide resistance transcends any one farm and should coordinate local practices with regional actions; (4) incentives should be developed and implemented to help the adoption of eco-evolutionary management programs; and (5) risk analysis can help incorporate an eco-evolutionary perspective into integrated weed management programs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law