Dominant attitudes and values towards wildlife and the environment in coastal Alabama

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.12957. This is version 1 of this Preprint.

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Authors

Sarah Weber Hertel, Jana Stupavsky, Kristine Alford, Hannah Rachelle Hicks, Andrew J Heaton, Nathan Katlein, Brandon Hastings, Adam Stern, Stephanie Jett, Andrew Y Wang, Bin Wang, Scott Glaberman, Ylenia Chiari 

Abstract

Surveys assessing attitudes and values about the environment can help predict human behavior towards wildlife and develop effective conservation goals alongside local communities. Southern Alabama is a hotspot for biodiversity and endemism in the United States and is in need of studies to protect its wildlife. Land and wildlife management practices in Alabama have moved from indigenous-led management, which is more in harmony with the environment, to larger-scale exploitative uses of the environment for agriculture and plantations. We therefore predicted that a large proportion of the population has a dominant view of the environment in which land and wildlife should be used primarily for human benefit. To test this hypothesis, we surveyed over 1,300 residents in Mobile and Baldwin counties – the two southernmost counties in Alabama – to assess attitudes towards local vertebrate wildlife, knowledge of the region’s biodiversity, and whether individuals value protected areas where they live and/or work. As hunting is considered a dominant behavior, we used self-identified hunters versus non-hunters to examine the relationship between humans and the environment. Overall, hunters would kill or kill to eat more often than non-hunters, and they would kill even when not for lethal removal or for meat. Furthermore, regardless of hunting status, most participants in our survey would kill a snake, indicating that targeted environmental education is needed for this vertebrate group. Both hunters and non-hunters, independently of demographic differences including education and income levels, were not familiar with the especially rich biodiversity of the area and would not be willing to invest money to protect it. Our results indicate that increasing targeted education about the unique and rich biodiversity of southern Alabama compared to the rest of the US is needed to support successful environmental management, conservation actions, and local participation.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.32942/X2V30D

Subjects

Animal Sciences, Biology, Environmental Studies, Life Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Keywords

vertebrates, survey, Snakes, South Alabama, hunting, Human Dimensions, environmental education, conservation, Behavior

Dates

Published: 2023-01-03 15:54

License

CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:
None

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data are available as data visualization through the link indicated in the paper. Raw data will be available as supp material associated with the paper after manuscript acceptance on a peer-reviewed journal