Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The role of citizen science in management of invasive avian species: what people think, know, and do.

Abstract

In North America, nest site competition from invasive cavity-nesting birds can limit the opportunities for successful nesting by native birds. Managing invasive species is costly and complex, requiring input from biologists, decision makers, and the public. An informed and engaged public can play an important role in mitigating the negative effects of invasive avian species. However, little is known regarding the publics' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward non-native bird species. We examined the association between participating in a citizen science project and enjoyment, knowledge, and management of two non-native avian species in North America: European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus). We administered a pre and post survey to 947 people who monitor nest boxes in the United States and Canada, 30% of whom were also reporting their observations to NestWatch, a citizen science project focused on nesting birds. We found that NestWatch participants were more likely to have negative views of non-native species, score higher on bird identification tasks, and manage for invasive species than non-participants. The most important predictor for undertaking management activities was respondents' perceptions of whether they believed non-native birds to be a problem at the continental scale, underscoring the important role of individual factors such as perception. Our study also highlights the important role citizen science may play in shaping attitudes and behaviors and increasing knowledge. We propose a conceptual model describing the mechanisms by which citizen science can be leveraged for management of invasive species.