Nav: Home

NC State study asks kids to choose wildlife conservation priorities

May 04, 2016

North Carolina elementary students' priorities for which wildlife species to protect closely matched those of conservation biologists but differed significantly from adults' rankings, a North Carolina State University study found.

"If wildlife conservation's goal is to protect species for future generations, shouldn't we get kids involved? They're the ones who will live with the results of those decisions," said co-author Kathryn Stevenson, a postdoctoral research at NC State and former North Carolina science teacher.

Researchers surveyed a sample of more than 400 third- and fifth-graders from 16 public elementary school classrooms across the state. Children were asked to rank the importance of five wildlife attributes: species with declining numbers, species that are important in nature, wild animals that live nowhere else but North Carolina (endemic species), wild animals that people like to watch and wild animals that people like to eat. Students also chose how to divide a set amount of money to dedicate to conservation efforts for wildlife in each of the categories.

Assigning wildlife conservation money to each species helps make the point that priorities are important because funds are limited and it's not possible to protect all species equally, said lead author Kristin Frew, an NC State graduate student examining the value of wildlife species in North Carolina. Students in co-author Nils Peterson's Human Dimensions of Wildlife class helped with data collection.

The children's rankings looked a lot like those of conservation biologists. Kids' top priorities - and recipients of most money - were species with rapid population declines, followed by species that had important ecological roles. Wildlife that people like to eat were third on the kids' list, followed by endemic species.

Similar studies with adults have shown that they place a high value on endemic wildlife species that are found only in a particular area.

"I wouldn't say the results are surprising, but they are encouraging," said Stevenson, a former North Carolina science teacher. "It will be interesting to see if these priorities endure over time and whether kids can have an influence on their parents' ideas about wildlife conservation."
-end-
Note: An abstract of the paper follows.

"Are we working to save the species our children want to protect? Evaluating species attribute preferences among children"
Authors: Kristin Frew, M. Nils Peterson and Kathryn Stevenson, NC State University
Published: May 4, 2016 in Oryx

Abstract: As conservation resources decline and numbers of threatened species increase, prioritizing species for conservation is increasingly important, and prioritizing based on attributes may be the most efficient approach. Despite the importance of biodiversity as a legacy to future generations, children's preferences for species attributes have never been considered. We surveyed 3rd and 5th grade students, typically 8-10 years old, in North Carolina, USA, to determine how children prioritize conservation of species based on attributes. We asked the students to rank five species attributes, allocate money to species with each attribute, and choose between each species attribute and endemism in terms of their importance for conservation. Children prioritized species that are important in nature and those whose numbers are declining over species with other attributes, whereas research suggests that adults prioritize endemic species over most other types. Our results suggest children prioritize biodiversity conservation differently from adults, and in ways that may be more conducive to biodiversity conservation in cases where endemism is not directly related to species endangerment, and we suggest the perspectives of children be considered more fully within biodiversity conservation.

North Carolina State University

Related Wildlife Conservation Articles:

Affluent countries contribute less to wildlife conservation than the rest of the world
Less affluent countries are more committed to conservation of their large animals than richer ones, a new Oxford University research collaboration has found.
How reliable are traditional wildlife surveys?
To effectively manage a wildlife species, one of the most basic things you need to know is how many of them are out there.
Wildlife-snaring crisis in Asian forests
A very important article co-authored by WCS scientist Tony Lynam has been published in this week's Science about a crisis emerging in Asia from snaring, which is wiping out wildlife in unprecedented numbers.
In communicating wildlife conservation, focus on the right message
If you want people to care about endangered species, focus on how many animals are left, not on the chances of a species becoming extinct, according to a new study by Cornell University communication scholars.
Using drones without disturbing wildlife
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones, are increasingly employed to monitor and protect wildlife.
Call to minimize drone impact on wildlife
University of Adelaide environmental researchers have called for a 'code of best practice' in using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for wildlife monitoring and protection, and other biological field research.
NC State study asks kids to choose wildlife conservation priorities
Future efforts to save species may be in good hands.
Is rare wildlife traded on the darknet?
Unlike illicit trade in drugs, guns or pornography, illicit trade in rare wildlife doesn't have to hide on the 'darknet' because people can find whatever rare species they want in the open marketplace.
Wildlife win when cash takes edge off 'park vs. people' conservation conflict
Conserving wildlife habitat sounds noble, but when it comes down to work or sacrifice, cold hard cash -- a decent amount of it -- goes a long way.
Stance that tourism harms wildlife refuted
Two Texas A&M University scientists highlighted the conservation benefits of ecotourism worldwide and said a recent research review citing the dangers of ecotourism to wildlife is premature and problematic.

Related Wildlife Conservation Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".