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Motivating residents to combat invasive species on private lands: social norms and community reciprocity

Rebecca M Niemiec, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University
Nicole M Ardoin, Graduate School of Education and Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Candace B Wharton, Hawaiʻi Community College, Hilo
Gregory P Asner, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science


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Invasive species (IS) threaten biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. To achieve landscape-scale reductions in IS and the associated gains for biodiversity, IS control efforts must be expanded across private lands. Enhancing IS control across private lands requires an understanding of the factors that motivate residents to engage or prohibit residents from engaging in efforts to control IS. Drawing from the collective interest model and literature, we sought to understand how a wide range of interpersonal, intrapersonal, and contextual factors might influence resident action around combating the invasive tree albizia (Falcataria moluccana), in the Puna District of Hawaiʻi. To do so, we used a cross-sectional survey of 243 residents and elastic net regression techniques. We found that residents’ actions related to IS control were related to their perceptions of social norms and community reciprocity regarding albizia control, as well as their knowledge of effective control strategies and their risk perceptions regarding albizia. These findings suggest that, although common intervention approaches that focus on providing education or subsidies are important, they may be more effective at reducing the spread of IS if coupled with approaches that build community reciprocity and norms.

Key words

community-based conservation; conservation; environmental behavior; Hawaiʻi; invasive species; private lands

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087