Message framing and public policy support for invasive species management in a changing world

Ms Elizabeth Hiroyasu1, Dr. Sarah Anderson1

1Bren School Of Environmental Science & Management, Santa Barbara, United States

Invasive species are a major driver of biodiversity loss and can threaten ecosystem integrity (Early et al. 2016; Chapin et al. 2000). As many species shift their ranges under climate change, invasive species are likely to become even more successful (Hellmann et al. 2008). To mitigate the impacts of invasive range expansions and protect biodiversity, successful management of invasive species is crucial. However, a major determinant of successful management is public support for policy interventions (Bertolino and Genovesi 2002), and delays driven by public dissatisfaction can result in the expansion of invasive species populations. Understanding how humans perceive invasive species and what characteristics determine the public’s support for management allows managers to anticipate how the public might respond to proposed policies. Using an online survey experiment, we measured individual’s support for invasive species management. To understand what determines support, individuals were given a treatment with a different message frame and different species; we also measured environmental values and other demographic factors. We find that support for invasive species management differs depending on the characteristics and desirability of the species in question. This heterogeneity in support can be mitigated for some species with message frames that highlight the economic or ecological gains and losses. We demonstrate that different message frames have differing effectiveness depending on species identity. Our findings can help managers and policy makers improve messaging to increase support for management and provides insights to how to approach messaging for species as they shift their distributions.


Ms. Hiroyasu is a PhD candidate at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses broadly on the ecological and social dimensions of human-wildlife interactions.

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