Knowledge, reason and emotion: using behavioral theories to understand people's support for invasive animal management.
Species invasions contribute to global environmental change and cause declines in populations of threatened and endangered species. Significant government funds are expended on invasive species management (ISM) actions each year. Public support and compliance are critical to the success of these actions. We conducted a study to assess determinants of the general public's support for ISM actions to identify potential barriers to ISM. We administered an online questionnaire to the general public (n = 1,561) in Florida, a state severely affected by species invasions. We presented respondents with 12 different non-native animals from 4 different taxa (birds, rodents, herpetofauna, fish) to test whether their support for ISM actions depended on the animals to be managed or their perceptions of risk. We utilized structural equation models to explore how different variables directly and indirectly influenced support for management actions. Respondents tended to oppose management actions targeted towards birds and charismatic species. Respondents' support for government-implemented ISM actions was positively correlated with their awareness of the risks associated with different animals and species invasions in general, their awareness of the consequences of species invasions, and their recognition of the importance of taking actions to mitigate invasion threats. Efforts to promote public support for ISM actions should emphasize the different risks associated with invasive species and the consequences of species invasions to offset opposition to ISM actions that target charismatic species.