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Ecología austral

On-line version ISSN 1667-782X


BORGNIA, Mariela; BENITEZ, Verónica; GOZZI, Cecilia  and  GUICHON, M. Laura. La ardilla de vientre rojo en Argentina y el manejo de especies introducidas como un problema biológico y social. Ecol. austral [online]. 2013, vol.23, n.3, pp.147-155. ISSN 1667-782X.

The red-bellied squirrel in Argentina and the management of introduced species as a biological and social problem: The study and management of exotic invasive species has been mainly focused on understanding the invasion process and designing adequate management techniques; however, in recent years several studies have shown the importance of involving social groups of the local community in the implementation of management plans. In this study we describe opinions and attitudes of six social groups (producers and service providers, environmentalists, neighbours, personnel of protected areas, civil servants, and teachers) regarding the presence of the red-bellied squirrels introduced in Argentina. The occurrence of various invasion foci of squirrels in three Argentinian provinces results from intentional releases of individuals, sometimes obtained by illegal trade. Opinion towards the presence of squirrels ranged from a negative perception of the squirrels viewed as a problem species that needs to be controlled to a positive perception of the squirrels viewed as an attractive species. Some groups showed a predominant opinion while others refected the whole range of responses. Personal experience with the species, its attributes and the time since its introduction, the area of residency, and the knowledge of the problems posed by this species affect the opinion and attitudes towards the presence of red-bellied squirrels. Management plans must be designed for each invasion focus not only considering biological and economic issues, but also social and political ones. At the same time, a national strategy of prevention to stop the creation of new invasion foci is urgently needed. We therefore need strategies to reorient the relationship between people and environmental resources and to promote appreciation of local ecosystems and native species as much as co-responsibility and citizen participation in the problems posed by biological invasions, and the illegal trade of wild fauna and pets.

Keywords : Charismatic species; Biological invasions; Environmental perceptions.

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