Make Inspect, Remove, Drain, Never Move your 2017 intention, and some science behind that

Post by Jenny Seifert, AIS Outreach Specialist, UW-Extension

As you recover from the holiday revelry and look ahead into the New Year, full of optimistic resolve to make your life better, we suggest you add a certain intention to your 2017 game plan. You guessed it: when using Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and wetlands, always Inspect, Remove, Drain, and Never Move to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

I know aquatic summer fun may be far from your mind right now, as you pile on the layers to protect yourself from the icy wrath of the latest polar vortex. But there’s no time like the present to set your intentions, and here’s why.

Behavioral intentions play a key role in behavior change, according to the Theory of Planned Behavior, an important theory we apply often to our AIS prevention campaigns.

Intentions are indications that you are ready to act and the immediate determinants of a behavior. Without the intention, the behavior won’t happen, so the theory goes.

Underlying our intentions are three factors: our attitude toward the behavior, perceived social norms, and our perceived ability to perform the behavior. Let’s break this down further.

Starting with attitudes, these are our feelings about a behavior – is it and its outcomes good or bad (favorable or unfavorable)? If I believe aquatic invasive species are bad and preventing them is good, I am likely to think it is good for me to try to stop them. So my attitude toward Inspect, Remove, Drain, Never Move is favorable.

Our attitudes about a behavior interact with what we think other people – particularly, people whose opinions we care about – expect of us, which includes what they think about the behavior in question and what they do themselves. This factor is called subjective norms.

In other words, if I think my friends, family and fellow boaters expect me to Inspect, Remove, Drain, and Never Move, then I am more likely to cave to that social pressure.

Finally, our attitudes and subjective norms also interact with our sense of self-efficacy, or our perceived behavioral control. If I believe I am capable of Inspecting, Removing, Draining and Never Moving and there is nothing preventing me from doing so, then my intent to act is stronger.

All three of these factors combined predict our intentions, which in turn predict our behaviors.

If you need a visual to pull all of this together, here is what the theory looks like:

Source: Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, p. 179-211.

Of course, real-life behavior is not always as neat and tidy as a conceptual model. Our behaviors are often a mess of factors that we can’t always explain. But behavior theories do a good job of making some sense of why people do what they do and how we might change our ways for the better. (Side note: An interesting exercise is to try to dissect why you do a certain behavior – at least I geek out on that sometimes.)

Now that we understand how setting an intention to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species can help us actually do it, we’d love to hear how you intend to stop aquatic hitchhikers this year. Send us a comment below and/or tag @WisconsinAIS in a Tweet – we’ll share or retweet our favorites.

Happy 2017!

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Bait shop owners can play a leading role in aquatic invasive species prevention, and here’s why

By Jenny Seifert, UWEX Outreach Specialist

Changing behavior is a fascinating but complicated endeavor. So many factors influence our actions, whether or not we are conscious of them, and many a social scientist – from economists to psychologists – has spent her or his career teasing out what does, or doesn’t, nudge people to adopt new habits.

As a goal inherently dependent on behavior change, preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) requires an approach based in the myriad theories these scientists have developed. To understand what such theory looks like in practice, look no further than your local bait shop.

Bait shops are information hubs, and their owners can be too.

Bait shops are obligatory hubs for anglers. Not only do they supply essential fishing gear, they are also epicenters for information that anglers pay attention to, like tips on what’s biting. Perhaps because of this, bait shop owners play an important role in the angling community: that of opinion leaders.

Communication research has shown that opinion leaders can be potentially powerful messengers who can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors – more so, in fact, than traditional media can. These individuals may not be in official leadership roles, but they are who other people look to for information on the right thing to think or do.

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Tracking an advancing invasion: FAQs about zebra mussels in Lake Mendota

Understanding how new arrivals of non-native plants and animals impact our lakes and waterways is important for making smart management decisions. That is why the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is supporting research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology on the invasion of zebra mussels to Madison’s iconic Lake Mendota.

As people remove their boats and piers for the season, zebra mussel sightings in Lake Mendota have been on the rise. In response to numerous inquiries the researchers have been receiving as a result, the Center for Limnology recently published the following explanatory piece by Adam Hinterthuer, which they have permitted us to re-post here.

Zebra mussels encrust sections of the UW Hoofers sailing pier pulled out of Lake Mendota in early November, 2016. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Zebra mussels encrust sections of the UW Hoofers sailing pier pulled out of Lake Mendota in early November, 2016. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Last fall, students in a UW-Madison undergraduate limnology lab found invasive zebra mussels living in Lake Mendota for the first time. Later that year, when we pulled the Hasler Lab pier out of the water for the winter, we only found two, maybe three, mussels per leg of each pier section. While the mussels were undoubtedly in the lake, no one would refer to it as an “invasion.”

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Bringing home new knowledge on aquatic invasive species

Post by Jenny Seifert, UWEX Outreach Specialist

Sharing knowledge and building boundary-spanning relationships are essential to stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species. This is why over 600 aquatic invasive species professionals from across the Upper Midwest descended upon La Crosse in October to take part in the biennial Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference.

A packed house for the opening plenaries. Photo courtesy Timothy Campbell

A packed house for the opening plenaries. Photo courtesy Timothy Campbell

Among the presenters, attendees and organizers were staff members from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the agency’s many state partners. Wisconsin benefits greatly from participation by program staff, because it means they can bring home and apply new knowledge and solutions to protect the state’s native environment, upon which its economy, recreational traditions and ecological resilience depend.


In this post, we share a sampling of information from the conference that may be helpful to those who enjoy Wisconsin’s great outdoors.

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