Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Minnesota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

H.W. Harshaw, Nicholas W. Cole, Ashley A. Dayer, Jonathan D. Rutter, David C. Fulton, Andrew H. Raedeke, Rudy M. Schuster, and Jennifer N. Duberstein. 2020. Testing a continuous measure of recreation specialization among birdwatchers, Human Dimensions of Wildlife.


Recreation specialization is a framework that can be used to explain the variation among recreationists’ preferences, attitudes, and behaviors. Recreation specialization has been operationalized using several approaches, including summative indices, cluster analysis, and self-classification categorical measures. While these approaches have their benefits, there remains a need for a continuous (interval) measure of recreation specialization that reflects the influence of the different dimensions of the framework by accounting for individual variation among the dimensions. This research note illustrates an approach that uses second-order confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) factor scores as weights to determine a person’s degree of recreation specialization and compares the CFA-based results to a cluster analysis approach. Data were collected from an online survey of eBird registrants from the United States. This CFA approach provides increased consistency in the operationalization and application of recreation specialization.