Investigating determinants of collaboration between landowners and wildlife agencies for endangered species conservation
Collaboration between and among diverse stakeholders is critical to accomplishing endangered species conservation (ESC) goals because of the large amounts of terrestrial land held in private ownership. To increase ESC collaboration above and beyond the deficiencies perpetuated by status quo command-and-control approaches, agencies have implemented voluntary incentive programs (VIPs) to extrinsically motivate collaboration. However, VIPs are chronically unpopular among different groups of landowners because of deficient social capital (e.g., communication and relationships) and value conflicts with agencies and programs. To bridge the gap between wildlife agencies and landowners, I investigated strategic communication processes (e.g., communications designed to change behavior) that influence ESC behavior through supplementing human and social capital. I also investigated what collaboration looks like from a landowner perspective by segmenting landowners according to their decision-making values and level of perceived interdependence with conservation partners. I used data from a large-N survey (n=886) of private landowners in Houston toad habitat to identify communication content and framing that influenced ESC attitudes and behavioral intention and created typologies of landowners to identify the preferred communication characteristics of different landowner types. In investigating the ideal conditions of collaboration (i.e., value alignment and high shared responsibility), I segmented landowners at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department workshops and conducted qualitative interviews with attendants to uncover their relational expectations. Results of the survey analysis showed that aligning message content and framing with landowner preferences and values can positively influence attitudes and behavioral intention towards ESC and VIPs. I also found that segmenting landowners according to their communication preferences is required to strategically communicate with diverse landowners because landowner types had heterogenous preferences for communication content and mediums. Finally, segmentation and interview results showed that landowner preferred conservation partnerships will support the heritage-related and stewardship values that landowners associate with the land.
endangered species conservation, strategic communication, collaboration, private landowners, Biology
Messick, J. A. (2023). Investigating determinants of collaboration between landowners and wildlife agencies for endangered species conservation (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.