The public and professionals reason similarly about the management of non-native invasive species: a quantitative investigation of the relationship between beliefs and attitudes

Anke Fischer, Sebastian Selge, Rene Van Der Wal, Brendon M. H. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite continued critique of the idea of clear boundaries between scientific and lay knowledge, the ‘deficit-model’ of public understanding of ecological issues still seems prevalent in discourses of biodiversity management. Prominent
invasion biologists, for example, still argue that citizens need to be educated so that they accept scientists’ views on the management of non-native invasive species. We conducted a questionnaire-based survey with members of the public and professionals in invasive species management (n = 732) in Canada and the UK to investigate commonalities and differences in their perceptions of species and, more importantly, how these perceptions were connected to attitudes towards species management. Both native and non-native mammal and tree species were included. Professionals tended to have more extreme views than the public, especially in relation to nativeness and abundance of a species. In both groups, species that were perceived to be more abundant, non-native, unattractive or harmful to nature and the economy were more likely to be regarded as in need of management. While perceptions of species and attitudes towards management thus often differed between public and professionals, these perceptions were linked to attitudes in very similar ways across the two groups. This suggests that ways of reasoning about invasive species employed by professionals and the public might be more compatible with each other than commonly thought. We recommend that managers and local people engage in open discussion about each other’s beliefs and attitudes prior to an invasive species control programme. This could ultimately reduce conflict over invasive species control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105495
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPloS ONE
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2014

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