About the Project

Understanding the human dimensions of aquatic invasive species

Welcome to our website! We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on understanding the reasons why people make decisions about aquatic invasive species and generating useful results that will help support resource management agencies. We are primarily housed in the van Riper Research Group but collaborate with researchers in the Center for Conservation Social Sciences, the Fish Lab and the Sport Fish Ecology Lab.  Our efforts began in 2016 with qualitative research involving anglers and boaters in the state of Illinois with support from the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. We then received support from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to conduct a regional, mixed-mode survey of U.S. license-holding anglers surrounding Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario in the U.S. and Canada to provide insight on how best to minimize the unintentional spread of aquatic invasive species. We also worked with collaborators in the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to understand angler and boater responses to message framing about aquatic invasive species. Currently, we are examining behavior change strategies relevant to organism-in-trade hobbyists and evaluating trends in recruitment, retention and reactivation for organizations such as the IL Department of Natural Resources. All of our work involves close collaboration with stakeholder groups to better understand how agencies can represent their interests, as well as consideration of how to communicate in ways that motivates people to act more consistently on their belief systems. It is our hope that the outcomes of this research will benefit freshwater ecosystems and human communities working to sustain natural resources in the Great Lakes Basin.

A group of previous survey respondents after a fishing tournament in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois (2017).


This research is supported by: