With introduced species, charisma makes it complicated

Horses may be charismatic, but their presence can be harmful to the rangelands they occupy.
©Bureau of Land Management

It’s easy to get the public to accept strict management policies on zebra mussels. But wild horses? That’s another story. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and universities in the United States and United Kingdom looked at how public perception and management of charismatic introduced species can be at odds with their ecological impacts. That includes horses, which are beloved by many but whose populations can far exceed the ability of rangelands to support them. But it’s not just a question of charisma, researchers argue. It’s also a question of scale. Humans have a hard time thinking in terms of ecosystem time and space, whether that’s a vast expanse of landscape or a flash flood. “There are tools, techniques and approaches that can help to bring progress and even resolution to these situations,” lead author Erik Beever, tells the Ecological Society of America.

Read more about their work here, and find the study in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.