Public Perception of Invasive Amphibians: Using citizen science to inform management of invasive non-native species
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Invasive non-native species (INNS) can cause problems - impacting the environment, economy and people's lives. Including the public in research through citizen science can engage communities and assist scientists in gaining access to sites for INNS management. Concerns have been raised regarding the validity of using citizen science data in research. This report aims to address those concerns to ensure that data of suitable quality is generated. A questionnaire conducted in an area known to have both invasive and native amphibians posed questions on participants connectedness to nature (using the NR-6 scale), their perception of INNS and opinions on INNS management (using the specially designed INNS perception scale). They also provided information on: ponds in their gardens; pond management; amphibian presence/absence; confidence in identification. Participants had NR-6 scores at the higher end of the scale, suggesting strong biophilic connections and environmental views and suggest respondents may exhibit more self-reported environmental behaviour. Respondents demonstrated good knowledge of INNS impacts. INNS perception scores were at the higher end of the scale and participants agreed that INNS should be controlled, though there was no significant correlation between these results and respondents’ NR-6 scores. Connection to nature can improve species identification skills though confidence in amphibian identification was not significantly different whether or not respondents reported amphibians as present. Respondents’ rural location suggests more frequent exposure to the natural environment and a stronger connection than those in urban areas. The older demographic implies more available time to connect with the environment than younger people not spending as much time outdoors. In summary, providing consideration is given to the target audience, framing of questions and data verification, citizen science can be a valuable tool in engaging communities and providing data for use in scientific research.
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