Neither the public nor experts judge species primarily on their origins

Rene Van Der Wal*, Anke Fischer, Sebastian Selge, Brendon M. H. Larson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In contemporary environmental conservation, species are judged in terms of their origin ('nativeness'), as well as their behaviour and impacts ('invasiveness'). In many instances, however, the term 'non-native' has been used as a proxy for harmfulness, implying the need for control. Some scientists have attempted to discourage this practice, on the grounds that it is inappropriate and counterproductive to judge species on their origin alone. However, to date, no empirical data exist on the degree to which nativeness in itself (that is, a species' origin) shapes people's attitudes towards management interventions in practice. This study addresses this void, demonstrating empirically that both the public and invasive species professionals largely ignore a species' origin when evaluating the need for conservation action. Through a questionnaire-based survey of the general public and invasive species experts in both Scotland and Canada, the study revealed that perceived abundance and damage to nature and the economy, rather than non-nativeness, informed attitudes towards species management, empirically substantiating the claim that a species' perceived abundance and impact, and not its origin, is what really matters to most people. Natural resource management should thus focus explicitly on impact-related criteria, rather than on a species' origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Conservation
Issue number4
Early online date24 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • attitudes
  • impact on economy
  • impact on nature
  • invasive species
  • management
  • non-native
  • origin
  • professionals
  • public
  • prey populations
  • alien
  • globalization
  • biodiversity
  • Scotland
  • natives
  • views
  • era


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