|Photo: R. Kasambe, source: Wikipedia|
Abstract:The perceptions of the general public regarding invasive alien species (IAS) are important in the prevention of future invasions and the success of management programmes. Here we use a novel visual method to investigate the perception of a charismatic IAS, the rose-ringed parakeet, across different stakeholders in Seville, Spain. Respondents were asked to select images of 10 bird species they would like to have present in their surroundings, out of 20 available images, including the parakeet and three other non-natives. This makes the survey easy, fast to take and attractive to potential participants, while prior and potentially biasing information of survey goals is minimised. Although more than 95% of the respondents recognised the parakeet, at least up to family level, only 34.8% selected it. Selection rates were even lower for three other IAS and even more so when the status of non-native species was indicated next to the images, suggesting that a social norm against IAS may be established. To validate our novel visual approach, we also assessed perception via a traditional questionnaire and the results of the two survey methods coincided. Finally parakeet selection differed importantly amongst pre-defined sectors of the public and people who had prior experience with the parakeet selected it less frequently (e.g. farmers, park managers). These results highlight the importance of studying different stakeholders to get the full picture when considering IAS management programmes. Our new visual survey method can thus serve as an excellent and user-friendly tool to study people’s perceptions regarding charismatic IAS and facilitate well-informed and sensible decision-making.