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Diverse views among scientists on non-native species

Salako, Valère K.
Published in NeoBiota. 2020, vol. 54, p. 49-69
Abstract Conservation scientists have traditionally viewed non-native species (NNS) as potential threats to native biodiversity. Here, we question whether alternative views of NNS exist in the scientific community that stand in contrast to the dominant narrative that emerges from the literature. We asked researchers from the biological, social, and environmental sciences to participate in an anonymous poll regarding the perceived values and threats of NNS. Some 314 individuals responded, approximately half of whom were biologists and half were social or environmental scientists. We grouped responses into three statistical clusters defined by shared responses. We then analyzed the correlation of responses to individual questions and membership of clusters with predictor variables age, gender, and field of work. Overall, a majority of respondents in our sample supported statements that the species-component of biodiversity should include all species (55%) or some types of non-native species (an additional 32%), which contrasts with the manner in which major biodiversity assessments and indicators are constructed. A majority of respondents in our sample (65%) also supported that measurement of the impact of invasive species should be based on the net biological, social, and economic effects, which also represents a marked departure from current methods that focus only on the adverse effects of a subset of NNS considered as invasive. Field of work and age were correlated with clusters and numerous individual responses. For example, biologists were three-times more likely than non-biologists to support a definition of species richness that included only native species. Two clusters (Cluster 1 and Cluster 3), mainly composed of non-biologists and biologists, respectively, differed in their support for statements that NNS would provide useful ecosystem services in the future (66% and 40%, respectively). Thus, a key result of this study is that a variety of normative stances regarding NNS is present within the scientific community. Current international indicators of progress (e.g., Aichi Targets) capture only a “nativist” set of values, which, if our sample is representative of the scientific community, appears to be a minority view. Therefore, we argue that indicators should be modified to integrate the diversity of views that exist within the scientific community.
Keywords Conservation ethicsExotic speciesInvasive speciesNativismValues
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Research group ISE Biodiversité
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GBEDOMON, Rodrigue Castro, SALAKO, Valère K., SCHLAEPFER, Martin. Diverse views among scientists on non-native species. In: NeoBiota, 2020, vol. 54, p. 49-69. doi: 10.3897/neobiota.54.38741 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:129367

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Deposited on : 2020-01-24

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