Investigating people's perceptions of alien parakeets in urban environments.
Biological invasions are widely recognised as a significant threat to biodiversity, a driver of global change and a relevant economic problem. Actions to control or eradicate invasive alien species (IAS) can cause great controversy, especially when targeted species are charismatic. Thus, better understanding people's perceptions of invasive species is key for ensuring more effective IAS management. The ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) are two of the most successful avian invaders worldwide, causing several ecological and socio-economic impacts in recipient regions. We used image-based questionnaires to assess differences in people's perceptions of recently established ring-necked and monk parakeet colonies in an urban environment (Porto, Portugal). Most participants recognised both species and had a positive perception of the parakeets, with respondents' education, gender and age influencing their perception. Potential ecological, economic and social impacts caused by these species do not seem be widely acknowledged yet, likely due to the limited awareness of IAS or the incipiency of their impacts in the area. Our results suggest future actions to manage feral parakeet populations in the area will likely be met with public opposition. While increased public literacy about IAS might help improve risk awareness, complementary tools should be used to promote support for potential interventions. Social assessments are vital to identify, evaluate and address social costs and benefits of IAS. Further research should adopt a multidisciplinary approach to foster communication in IAS management actions, implementing effective and sustainable measures to tackle biological invasions by charismatic vertebrates.