Moving from latent to manifest problem: trajectories across scientific and public salience of invasive alien species.
Who worries first about an invasive alien species: scientists or the general public, or do both become concerned simultaneously? Taking thirteen invasive alien species in the Netherlands, this article reconstructs the development of their public and scientific salience: the attention they attracted and the knowledge about them. Salience was assessed from the number of publications from 1997 onwards in the LexisNexis newspaper database and Scopus scientific database. Three trajectories were derived for a species to move from being a latent problem with low salience toward a manifest status with high public and scientific salience. In the most common trajectory, scientific salience increased first, followed by an increase in public salience. We probed the merit of this concept of trajectories by examining the action undertaken for a representative species of the trajectories. We assigned each of these three species a code for inertia and inaction based on the content of a hundred newspaper articles and all available government documents. Knowing the scientific and public salience of these species clarifies why the actions to deal with them differed even though from an ecological perspective they warranted similar attention. The typology of public and scientific salience and the problem trajectories developed in this article together offer a structured approach for understanding an invasive alien species and provide pointers for engaging a community in managing that species.