Effecting compliance with invasive species regulations through outreach and education of live plant retailers
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Movement of organisms through the horticultural trade explains the majority of nonindigenous aquatic invasive plant introductions. Prevention is the most promising approach to reducing the spread of nonindigenous species, but key vectors persist. To better understand the risk posed by trade in aquatic plants, we surveyed all known aquatic plant retail locations in Wisconsin and quantified the prevalence of nonindigenous species in retail stock. We conducted an educational program that utilized in-person educational visits and mailed informational packets to inform vendors of existing regulations, increase accuracy of species identification, and create awareness of best management practices. We compared the change in prevalence of regulated nonindigenous species in trade following education. Educational visits and mailed informational packets were both associated with a decrease in the number of nonindigenous species available for sale. However, in-person education increased vendor compliance more than a single informational mailing. We observed an initial noncompliance rate of 51 % but even after education, 27 % of stores remained noncompliant. Our results suggest that education can improve compliance with invasive species regulations, but additional steps may be necessary to further reduce the rate of noncompliance.
KeywordsInvasive species Invasive species management and policy Outreach and education
We thank Scott Van Egeren, Elizabeth Haber and Diane Menuz for their invaluable contributions to study design, GIS support, and field work, and Paul Rasmussen for statistical support. We also thank Ryan Thum and his lab at Grand Valley State University for conducting our genetic and molecular identifications. This work was funded through US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant No. 00E00804. We thank two anonymous reviewers for suggestions that greatly improved this manuscript.
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