Beyond values: How emotions, anthropomorphism, beliefs and knowledge relate to the acceptability of native and non-native species management in cities

Tanja M. Straka, Luise Bach, Ulrike Klisch, Monika H. Egerer, Leonie K. Fischer, Ingo Kowarik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Managing non-native species in cities is often controversial because these species can support both ecosystem services and disservices. Yet, how the acceptability of non-native species management by the general public differs in relation to native species, to distance (i.e. close to residence and elsewhere) and among plants and animals is understudied. Furthermore, while values, beliefs and knowledge are often considered in this context, psychometric factors such as emotions and anthropomorphic views have received little attention. We surveyed 658 residents in Berlin, Germany, to assess (i) the acceptability of management actions differing in their severity for non-native plants and animals compared to native species with similar traits, (ii) the influence of perceived distance of species (i.e. close to residence and elsewhere) and (iii) the predictive potential of psychometric (i.e. values, beliefs, self-assessed knowledge, emotions and anthropomorphism) and socio-demographic factors for this acceptability. Eradication (i.e. lethal control/removal) was generally the least accepted management action, but more accepted for non-native than native species. Distance mattered for the acceptability of non-native plant management with unspecified control action the most accepted management action close to residence. While values (self-transcendence and conservation) mostly explained the acceptability of doing nothing and eradication, emotions related strongly to all management actions. Beliefs were more important than self-assessed knowledge in relation to non-native species management and beliefs about non-native plants and animals were rated almost similar. Anthropomorphic views had predictive potential for plants and animals; that is, the stronger people held anthropomorphic views, the less they accepted eradication. Participants with a garden supported doing nothing with plants (native and non-native) more than without. Results highlight the complexity of factors underlying the acceptability of management actions on species in cities. While values, beliefs and self-assessed knowledge are important in the context of species management, other psychometric factors add to our understanding of acceptability. We conclude that awareness about different acceptability patterns related to species management can support environmental policies on biological invasions in cities. Tailoring and implementing adequate management actions can benefit from incorporating cognitive but also affective factors of the public. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1499
Number of pages15
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Alien species
  • invasion biology
  • native species
  • urban ecosystems
  • urban wildlife management
  • values


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