Barriers to participation in aquatic invasive species prevention among Illinois, USA recreational water users

Elizabeth J. Golebie, Carena J. van Riper, Greg Hitzroth, Amanda Huegelmann, North Joffe-Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spread of invasive species is a globally relevant challenge for environmental management agencies. There have been considerable investments in outreach campaigns that encourage recreationists to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species as they move between waterbodies. However, widespread behavior change has yet to take hold. Empirical evidence of the barriers that impede pro-environmental behaviors among water-based recreationists is thus urgently needed. With theoretical guidance from the Health Belief Model, we sought to understand how risk perceptions, perceived benefits, self-efficacy, and response-efficacy influenced aquatic invasive species prevention behavior, how barriers moderated those relationships, and how socio-demographic characteristics relate to the level of barriers experienced. Among all respondents, self-efficacy and response-efficacy had the strongest positive relationships with behavioral intentions; however, different relationships emerged for subgroups defined by the strength of perceived barriers. For recreationists who experienced low barriers, perceived benefits were the sole predictor of intended behavior, whereas for recreationists experiencing moderate barriers, only self-efficacy was a significant predictor. Recreationists who perceived high and very high barriers were influenced by risk perceptions, self-efficacy, and response-efficacy. Strength of perceived barriers was negatively correlated with years of fishing and boating experience. Additionally, a comparison between boating and angling behaviors indicated that boaters need more information about how to complete prevention steps, whereas anglers need more information about why such actions are necessary. Ultimately, outreach campaigns should aim to boost self-efficacy and response-efficacy in order to support diverse audiences faced with barriers that impede engagement in invasive species prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2549-2565
Number of pages17
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number8
Early online dateApr 5 2023
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • INHS
  • Health belief model
  • Fisheries management
  • Invasive species
  • Risk perceptions
  • Efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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