Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 633–652 | Cite as

In lakes but not in minds: stakeholder knowledge of invasive species in prairie lakes

  • Lushani Nanayakkara
  • Rozzet Jurdi-Hage
  • Peter R. Leavitt
  • Björn Wissel
Original Paper


Humans are key vectors in the spread and establishment of aquatic invasive species (AIS), and human behavior can exacerbate or help prevent further spread of non-native species. Therefore, stakeholders’ knowledge is critical to preventing establishment of AIS. However, stakeholders’ AIS knowledge in prairie lakes remains poorly understood. We used a survey questionnaire in Saskatchewan, Canada, to assess the state of AIS knowledge, identify predictors of knowledge, and optimize management strategies. Statistical analyses of the responses of 440 participants indicated a generally low level of AIS knowledge, suggesting low communication success. Respondents were generally more aware of non-native fishes than plants. Of concern was the observation of substantial knowledge gaps regarding non-native mussels and important preventative behaviors that may have devastating ecological, social, and economic consequences if left unaddressed. Better understanding of AIS issues was significantly associated with several trans-situational (age, sex and education), situational (recreational purpose and using multiple lakes), and lake-related knowledge (awareness of eutrophication) predictors. Exploitation of these predictors is recommended to improve effectiveness of outreach and communication efforts. Specifically, we propose that management strategies focus on improving communications by streamlining outreach messages, targeting low-knowledge groups (e.g., swimmers, cabin owners), and expanding education campaigns.


AIS knowledge Prairie lakes Survey research Knowledge predictors Outreach Communications strategy 



We thank Ron Hlasny at the SK Ministry of Environment and Kyle Hodder at the University of Regina for their assistance in this study. Fishing rods offered as prizes were generously donated by Cabela’s. Funding for this study was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Grant to B. Wissel, and Teaching Assistance and Research scholarships from the University of Regina and the Government of Saskatchewan to L. Nanayakkara.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ReginaReginaCanada

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