Collective factors drive individual invasive species control behaviors: evidence from private lands in Montana, USA

Alice A. Lubeck, Alexander L. Metcalf, Crystal L. Beckman, Laurie Yung, Justin W. Angle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Invasive terrestrial plants globally threaten agricultural and natural systems. Prolific dispersal mechanisms enable “weeds” to colonize across ownership boundaries, constituting a collective action problem where effective control requires contributions from multiple actors. Researchers have long recognized the cross-boundary nature of weed control, yet most studies have focused on whether actor-specific characteristics, such as sociodemographics and cognition, influenced individual weed control behaviors. More recent work has begun to explore the drivers of communal control efforts, i.e., cooperatives, group actions. Few studies have empirically investigated how the collective aspects of weed invasions influence individual control behaviors. Here we provide quantitative evidence of a relationship between collective aspects of the weed control problem and landowners’ willingness to engage in individual weed control efforts. In a mail-back survey of Montana landowners (n = 1327) we found collective factors, such as injunctive norms and the belief that weeds are a cross-boundary problem, were significantly correlated with willingness to engage in three different weed control behaviors. Each behavior was correlated with a unique suite of collective factors suggesting that successful interventions must be behavior-specific. These results add to a growing body of evidence that the collective nature of invasive species control is critical for understanding human behavioral responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Collective action
  • Conservation
  • Montana
  • Private lands
  • Weed control


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