Weed science has contributed much to agriculture, forestry and natural resource management during its history. However, if it is to remain relevant as a scientific discipline, it is long past time for weed scientists to move beyond a dominating focus on herbicide efficacy testing and address the basic science underlying complex issues in vegetation management at many levels of biological organization currently being solved by others, such as invasion ecologists and molecular biologists. Weed science must not be circumscribed by a narrowly-defined set of tools but rather be seen as an integrating discipline. As a means of assessing current and future research interests and funding trends among weed scientists, the Weed Science Society of America conducted an online survey of its members in summer of 2007. There were 304 respondents out of a membership of 1330 at the time of the survey, a response rate of 23%. The largest group of respondents (41%) reported working on research problems primarily focused on herbicide efficacy and maintenance, funded mainly by private industry sources. Another smaller group of respondents (22%) reported focusing on research topics with a complex systems focus (such as invasion biology, ecosystem restoration, ecological weed management, and the genetics, molecular biology, and physiology of weedy traits), funded primarily by public sources. Increased cooperation between these complementary groups of scientists will be an essential step in making weed science increasingly relevant to the complex vegetation management issues of the 21st century.
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Vol. 57 • No. 4