Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 69–79 | Cite as

Human-Nature Relationships and Normative Beliefs Influence Behaviors that Reduce the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

  • Carena J. van RiperEmail author
  • Matthew H. E. M. Browning
  • Douglas Becker
  • William Stewart
  • Cory D. Suski
  • Lara Browning
  • Elizabeth Golebie


Human behaviors that contribute to the spread of aquatic invasive species are influenced by myriad social psychological factors that vary across contexts and populations. Understanding such behavior is crucial for forming successful management strategies that minimize environmental impacts while generating support and cooperation among stakeholders. We identify several reasons why recreational anglers and boaters make decisions that benefit the environment. Specifically, our study addresses the following objectives: (1) examine reported behaviors that minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species, (2) test the effects of social normative beliefs on reported behaviors, and (3) determine the role of human-nature relationships in explaining behavioral patterns. Drawing on a path model of the decisions made by respondents who completed an on-site survey at two nature-based case study sites in Illinois, we observed that reported behavior was positively influenced by normative beliefs about those behaviors and human-nature relationships. Specifically, the Participant in Nature and Partner with Nature orientations were positively and negatively correlated with norms, respectively. In turn, norms positively predicted reported stewardship behaviors. These findings advance research on the human dimensions of aquatic invasive species by providing insights on the role of stable psychological processes that shape behavior, while informing management decisions aimed at minimizing biological invasions in freshwater ecosystems.


Invasive species Pro-environmental behavior Social psychology Freshwater ecosystems 



We would like to thank Reanna Kayser and Grace Merrett for their involvement in data collection and dissemination of the study findings. We are also grateful to Greg Behm at Chain O’Lakes State Park and David Suthard at North Point Marina who provided access to their clientele. This work was supported by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center internships awarded to Reanna Kayser (grant #NGRREC-IP2016-25) and Grace Merrett (grant #NGRREC-IP2016-2), and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project (accession #1012211).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Recreation, Sport, and TourismUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Office of Recreation and Park ResourcesUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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