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Increases in use and changes in the behavior of visitors to parks and protected areas (PPAs) worldwide are challenging the ability of managers to provide for a quality visitor experience while also maintaining the integrity of natural resources. Understanding visitor motivations and spatial behaviors are important for effective management of PPA resources and visitor experiences, as differences in motivations and spatial behaviors can influence the distribution of impacts to a recreation landscape. However, the relationships between motivations and behaviors are not well understood. In this study, we investigated the relationship between motivations and spatial behavior patterns of recreationists within a system of urban and peri-urban PPAs in Orange County, California, USA. Data were collected using paired GPS-based tracking and visitor questionnaires. Factor analysis revealed seven primary motivations derived from a 36-item motivation scale, and classification of visitors by motivations suggests two primary types. A three-way Analysis of Variance examining the relationship between a suite of visitor spatial behaviors and activity type (mountain bike vs. pedestrian), motivation type, and recreation area visited showed that all three variables interacted to influence visitor spatial behavior patterns while recreating. A spatial analysis of visitor dispersion further illustrated these interactions. These results suggest that the relationship between visitor motivations and spatial behaviors is complex. Understanding the complexities of how motivations influence visitor spatial behavior can help land managers mitigate impacts and improve planning for outdoor recreation by predicting where use may increase, how visitors might behave, and highlight locations of future research. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Abigail M Sisneros-Kidd, Ashley D'Antonio, Christopher Monz, Milan Mitrovich. Improving understanding and management of the complex relationship between visitor motivations and spatial behaviors in parks and protected areas. Journal of environmental management. 2021 Feb 15;280:111841

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PMID: 33370670

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