The behavioral patterns of recreational anglers are an increasingly common focus of fishery management agencies, particularly due to the unintentional spread of aquatic invasive species. Previous research in this area has focused on understanding stakeholder awareness, use patterns, and beliefs. Although informative, these drivers of behavior are easily shifted by new information and are thus potentially less influential for encouraging long-term behavior change. There is a pressing need to account for the effects of human values in management of aquatic invasive species because values are a fundamental driver of behavior that changes slowly over time and represents a core basis for angler decision making. Therefore, this study assessed the relationships among values, risk perceptions, and reported aquatic invasive species prevention behavior to inform management decisions aimed at minimizing angler transport of aquatic invasive species. We generated a data set from a mixed-mode survey of license-holding recreational anglers from counties adjacent to the Great Lakes in three U.S. states (n = 788). Results from a structural equation model revealed that biospheric values positively predicted social and personal risk perceptions. Personal risk perceptions in turn positively predicted private and public dimensions of reported behaviors related to reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Efforts to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species within the study context would be best served by emphasizing the personal impacts rather than broader social and ecological consequences from biological invasions. Agencies should also shift their attention to thinking about the role of values in explaining how people process and respond to environmental threats and degradation from aquatic invasive species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law