Assessing public attitudes toward endangered freshwater mussels

Belyna M Bentlage, Purdue University


The Tippecanoe River, situated in northcentral Indiana, supports five federally endangered and one federally threatened species of freshwater mussels. Past overharvesting and present water quality degradation threaten the survivorship of these mussels. To increase awareness about the imperilment of the mussels, we are designing an outreach and education campaign. The first step of the campaign is to collect baseline data about riparian landowner attitudes toward the federally listed mussels. We surveyed 1804 landowners who own property along the Tippecanoe River. We found significant differences in attitudes among landowners based on their awareness of a conflict that occurred as a result of conservation efforts to protect the mussels. Landowner attitudes also differed significantly based on residency in or out of the town where the conflict occurred. We also found that a majority of our sample is religiously affiliated, specifically with Christian traditions. Some literature suggests that within Christian traditions, Catholics tend to exhibit more positive attitudes toward the environment. Our data do not support this claim. Instead, we found few significant differences across Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical Protestant groups.




Prokopy, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Natural Resource Management

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