Exploring the efficacy of an aquatic invasive species prevention campaign among water recreationists

Erin Seekamp, Allie McCreary, Jessica Mayer, Sarah Zack, Patrice Charlebois, Lainey Pasternak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water recreationists regularly engage in behavior that can contribute to the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), which can result in costly consequences for managers. As AIS prevention is more cost-effective than response, educational campaigns are implemented as a preventative management strategy. However, little is known about the efficacy of education campaigns in promoting recreationists’ knowledge, personal responsibility, and engagement in behaviors that can prevent AIS spread. This study explored the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ (SAH!) campaign by conducting survey and focus group research with water recreationists’ in Illinois and Indiana. Results from the survey research indicate moderate campaign success (55 % were aware of the SAH! campaign), and that awareness is significantly related to increases in knowledge, personal responsibility, and engagement in four of the six recommended control behaviors. Additionally, findings demonstrate that boater-anglers were most aware of the campaign (69 %), most knowledgeable of AIS species, and felt the most personal responsibility for AIS control. However, focus group results demonstrate the need for campaign enhancement, including streamlining campaign messaging and increasing campaign exposure. Policy informed by our recommendations may improve the efficacy of educational campaigns to manage recreation behavior and corresponding environmental impacts among multiple water recreationist groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1745-1758
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • INHS
  • Survey research
  • Boaters
  • Behaviors
  • Outreach
  • Anglers
  • AIS prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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