Environmental Management

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 477–489

Landowners’ Perspectives on Coordinated, Landscape-Level Invasive Species Control: The Role of Social and Ecological Context

  • Rebecca M. Niemiec
  • Roger P. Pech
  • Grant L. Norbury
  • Andrea E. Byrom


To achieve biodiversity gains, landowner engagement in coordinated invasive species control programs across private lands is needed. Understanding landowners’ perspectives toward such coordinated control efforts is crucial to facilitating engagement. We conducted in person and mail surveys of 68 landowners in and adjacent to the area of a proposed invasive predator control program in New Zealand. We find that, similar to previous studies, landowners consider the potential socioeconomic and ecological benefits of invasive species control and express a strong desire to enhance native biodiversity. However, we also find that landowners take into account the complexity of the local social and ecological context in which a program will unfold in three ways: they consider (1) the level of contribution by other landowners and urban residents who are benefiting from collective control efforts; (2) the potential for the program to upset the local “ecological balance”, leading to increases in other pests; and (3) the probability that the program will be successful given the likelihood of others participating and control tactics being effective. We suggest that managers of coordinated invasive species control efforts may benefit from devoting time and resources toward addressing beliefs about social and ecological context, rather than solely providing financial subsidies and information about control tactics or the impacts of invasive species.


Invasive species Collective action New Zealand Private lands conservation 


  1. Ajzan I, Fishbein M (1980) Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, p 296Google Scholar
  2. Aslan CE, Hufford MB, Epanchin-Niell RS, Port JD, Sexton JP, Waring TM (2009) Practical challenges in private stewardship of rangeland ecosystems: yellow starthistle control in Sierra Nevadan foothills. Rangeland Ecol Manag 62(January):28–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura A (1998) Personal and collective efficacy in human adaptation and change. Adv Psychol Sci 1:51–71Google Scholar
  4. Bandura A, Schunk DH (1981) Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. J Pers Soc Psychol 41(3):586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barker K (2010) Biosecure citizenship: politicising symbiotic associations and the construction of biological threat. T I Brit Geogr 35(3):350–363. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2010.00386.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barr S, Gilg A, Shaw G (2011) “Helping people make better choices”: exploring the behaviour change agenda for environmental sustainability. Appl Geogr 31:712e720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bremner A, Park K (2007) Public attitudes to the management of invasive non-native species in Scotland. Biol Cons 139(3–4):306–314. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2007.07.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen MF (2015) Self-efficacy or collective efficacy within the cognitive theory of stress model: which more effectively explains people’s self-reported proenvironmental behavior? J Environ Psychol 42:66–75. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.02.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Corbett JB (2002) Motivations to participate in riparian improvement programs. Sci Commun 23(3):243–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cowan PE (2005) Brushtail possum. In: King CM (ed) The handbook of New Zealand mammals, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 56–80Google Scholar
  11. Dillman DA (2007) Mail and internet surveys: the tailored design method, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, p 544Google Scholar
  12. Drescher M (2014) What is it like to take care of the land? Toward an understanding of private land conservation. Rural Soc 23(2):117–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Epanchin-Niell RS, Hufford MB, Aslan CE, Sexton JP, Port JD, Waring TM (2010) Controlling invasive species in complex social landscapes. Front Ecol Environ 8(4):210–216. doi:10.1890/090029 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Estevez RA, Anderson CB, Pizarro JC, Burgman MA. (2014). Clarifying values, risk perceptions, and attitudes to resolve or avoid social conflicts in invasive species management. Conservation Biology 29(1):19–30. doi:10.1111/cobi.12359
  15. Fiege M (2005) The weedy west: mobile nature, boundaries, and common space in the Montana landscape. West Hist Q 36(1): 22–47Google Scholar
  16. Fisher NI, Lee aJ, JHJ Cribb, Haynes GD (2011) Public perceptions of foxes and fox eradication in Tasmania. Aust Zoo 35(3):576–589. doi:10.7882/AZ.2011.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fischer A, van der Wal R (2007) Invasive plant suppresses charismatic seabird—the construction of attitudes towards biodiversity management options. Biol Cons 135(2):256–267. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2006.10.026 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ginn F (2016) Extension, subversion, containment: eco-nationalism and (post) colonial nature in Aotearoa New Zealand. T I Brit Geogr 33(3):335–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glen AS, Latham MC, Anderson D, Leckie C, Niemiec R, Pech RP, Byrom AE (2016) Landholder participation in regional-scale control of invasive predators: a spatial model for an agro-ecosystem. Biol Invasions, 1–10Google Scholar
  20. Graham S (2013) Three cooperative pathways to solving a collective weed management problem. Autsralas J Env Man 20(2):116–129. doi:10.1080/14486563.2013.774681 Google Scholar
  21. Green SB (1991) How many subjects does it take to do a regression analysis? Multivar Behav Res 26:499–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Greer G (2006) The economic benefits of the Possum Control Area program. AERU, Lincoln University, Lincoln, Unpublished Report for Hawke’s Bay Regional CouncilGoogle Scholar
  23. Gruber JS (2010) Key principles of community-based natural resource management: a synthesis and interpretation of identified effective approaches for managing the commons. Environ Manage 45:52–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hershdorfer ME, Fernandez-gimenez ME, Howery LD (2007) Key attributes influence the performance weed management programs in the Southwest United States. Rangeland Ecol Manag 60(3):225–234. doi:10.2111/1551-5028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Howell aP, Shaw BR, Alvarez G (2014) Bait shop owners as opinion leaders: a test of the theory of planned behavior to predict pro-environmental outreach behaviors and intentions. Environ Behav 47(10):1107–1126. doi:10.1177/0013916514539684 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hu R, Gill N (2015) Garden-related environmental behavior and weed management: an Australian case study. Soc Nat Resour 29(2):148–165. doi:10.1080/08941920.2015.1045646 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jackson JM, Harkins SG (1985) Equity in effort: an explanation of the social loafing effect. J Pers Soc Psychol 49(5):1199–1206. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.49.5.1199 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Janssen MA (2013) The role of information in governing the commons: experimental results. Ecol Soc 18(4):4Google Scholar
  29. Kerr NL (1983) Motivation losses in small groups: a social dilemma analysis. J Pers Soc Psychol 45(4):819–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klepeis P, Gill N, Chisholm L (2009) Emerging amenity landscapes: invasive weeds and land subdivision in rural Australia. Land Use Policy 26(2):380–392. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2008.04.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Komorita SS, Parks CD (1994). Social dilemmas. Brown & Benchmark, Dubuque, IAGoogle Scholar
  32. Larson BMH (2007) An alien approach to invasive species: objectivity and society in invasion biology. Biol Invasions 9(8):947–956. doi:10.1007/s10530-007-9095-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Locke EA, Latham GP (2002) Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. Am Psychol 57:705–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lofland J, Lofland LH (1995) Analyzing social settings: a guide to qualitative observation and analysis, 3rd edn. Wadsworth, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  35. McLeod LJ, Hine DW, Please PM, Driver AB (2015) Applying behavioral theories to invasive animal management: towards an integrated framework. J Environ Manage 161:63–71. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.06.048 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Niemiec RM, Ardoin N, Wharton C, Asner GP (2016). Motivating resident engagement in invasive species control across private lands: social norms and community reciprocity. Ecol Soc 21(2):30Google Scholar
  37. Norbury G, Jones C (2015) Pests controlling pests: does predator control lead to greater European rabbit abundance in Australasia? Mammal Rev 45(2):79–87. doi:10.1111/mam.12034 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ostrom E (2000) Collective action and the evolution of social norms. J Econ Perspect 14:137–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pech R, Maitland M (2016) Conservation of native fauna in highly invaded systems: managing mammalian predators in New Zealand. Restoration Ecol 24(6):816-820Google Scholar
  40. Pescosolido AT (2001) Informal leaders and the development of group efficacy. Small Gr Res 32(1):74–93. doi:10.1177/104649640103200104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Potts A (2009) Kiwis against possums: a critical analysis of anti-possum rhetoric in Aotearoa New Zealand. Soc Anim 17(1):1–20. doi:10.1163/156853009X393738 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prinbeck G, Lach D, Chan S (2011) Exploring stakeholders’ attitudes and beliefs regarding behaviors that prevent the spread of invasive species. Environ Educ Res 17(3):341–352. doi:10.1080/13504622.2010.542451 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rapoport A, Eshed-Levy D (1989) Provision of step-level public goods: effects of greed and fear of being gypped. Organ Behav Hum Dec 44(3):325–344. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(89)90012-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Robbins TL, Journal S, Mar N (1995) Social loafing on cognitive tasks: an examination of the “sucker effect”. J Bus Pyschol 9(3):337–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Russell JC (2014) A comparison of attitudes towards introduced wildlife in New Zealand in 1994 and 2012. J R Soc NZ 44:136–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Russell JC, Innes JG, Brown PH, Byrom AE (2015) Predator-free New Zealand: conservation country. BioScience 65(5):520–525. doi:10.1093/biosci/biv012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Seabrook-Davison MNH, Brunton DH (2014) Public attitudes towards conservation in New Zealand and awareness of threatened species. Pac Conserv Biol 20:286–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Selge S, Fischer A, van der Wal R (2011) Public and professional views on invasive non-native species—a qualitative social scientific investigation. Biol Cons 144(12):3089–3097. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Simpson B, Willer R (2014) Beyond altruism: sociological foundations of cooperation and prosocial behavior. Annu Rev Sociol 41(1):150504162558008. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-073014-112242 Google Scholar
  50. Sharp RL, Larson LR, Green GT (2011) Factors influencing public preferences for invasive alien species management. Biol Cons 144(8):2097–2104. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.04.032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stokes KE, O’Neill KP, Montgomery WI, Dick JTa, Maggs Ca, McDonald Ra (2006) The importance of stakeholder engagement in invasive species management: a cross-jurisdictional perspective in Ireland. Biodivers Conserv 15(8):2829–2852. doi:10.1007/s10531-005-3137-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Veitch CR, Clout MN (2001) Human dimensions in the management of invasive species in New Zealand. In: McNeely, JA (ed) The great reshuffling: human dimensions of invasive alien species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, pp 63–71 Google Scholar
  53. Yung L, Chandler J, Haverhals M (2015) Effective weed management, collective action, and landownership change in Western Montana. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 8(2):193–202. doi:10.1614/IPSM-D-14-00059.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and ResourcesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand
  3. 3.Landcare ResearchAlexandraNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations