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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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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Correspondence to Lushani Nanayakkara.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 6.

Table 6 Operational definitions and explanations of concepts in ‘invasive species’,

Appendix 2

See Table 7.

Table 7 Operational definitions of predictor variables considered in the multivariate analyses,

Appendix 3

See Table 8.

Table 8 Frequency and percent of lake-use by region,

Appendix 4

See Table 9.

Table 9 Profiles for the respondents’ lake-use by region, including significant Chi squared results for region differences

Appendix 5

See Table 10.

Table 10 Frequency and percent results for awareness of non-native mussels,

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Nanayakkara, L., Jurdi-Hage, R., Leavitt, P.R. et al. In lakes but not in minds: stakeholder knowledge of invasive species in prairie lakes. Biol Invasions 20, 633–652 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1564-4

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Keywords

  • AIS knowledge
  • Prairie lakes
  • Survey research
  • Knowledge predictors
  • Outreach
  • Communications strategy