Internet data could boost conservation

December 16, 2016

Businesses routinely use internet data to learn about customers and increase profits - and similar techniques could be used to boost conservation.

New research has tracked public interest in conservation over time, and found sudden spikes in interest linked to media coverage and seasonal events.

Peaks in interest in certain animals - such as when a species appears on TV programmes like the BBC's Planet Earth II - could be harnessed to aid protection efforts, the researchers say.

"Using these methods is relatively cheap and they produce huge sample sizes to tell us what people think about conservation," said lead author Andrea Soriano-Redondo, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"Up until now people have relied on surveys, which are extremely useful but very expensive, take a long time and usually have relatively small sample sizes."

The research, by the University of Exeter, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, is published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Ms Soriano-Redondo, a PhD student, noted spikes in interest in cranes after a media release in August 2015 that detailed the first successful breeding of Eurasian cranes in south-west England in over 400 years - but she said the level of interest went "back to the baseline" soon afterwards.

The same happened for sloths and iguanas after they appeared on Planet Earth II.

"The challenge is to make the most of these surges and keep that going after the initial peak," she said.

"At the moment the power of this public interest isn't being used to its full potential to promote conservation."

The study noted peaks in interest in bird species such as red kites and cranes when each species was nesting.

The researchers used both offsite tools (such as Google Trends) and onsite tools (such as Google Analytics) to monitor public interest in conservation.

Ms Soriano-Redondo's PhD studies are part of the Great Crane Project, which has reintroduced cranes to the South West in order to restore a healthy population of wild cranes in the UK.
-end-


University of Exeter

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.