Internet-based monitoring of public perception of conservation

Andrea Soriano-Redondo*, Stuart Bearhop, Leigh Lock, Stephen C. Votier, Geoff M. Hilton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Monitoring public perception of conservation is essential to ensure successful conservation outcomes. However, evaluating attitudes towards conservation projects presents daunting challenges because it is time consuming, expensive and open to social biases and small sample-size errors. Here, we present a recently developed approach to overcome these limitations – Internet-based methods - in particular offsite and onsite metrics. Offsite methods refer to Internet data mining tools that extract Internet search queries, such as Google Trends, while onsite methods refer to programmes that monitor traffic within websites, such as Google Analytics. We explore the potential of these methods rather than focus on the particular details of the case-studies provided to illustrate them. We used offsite methods to determine patterns in public interest in a reintroduced flagship species and in conservation awareness projects in the UK. We employed onsite metrics to assess the success in communicating a conservation outcome and to evaluate the success in online public engagement of a conservation NGO. Our results indicate that both offsite and onsite metrics are able to track changes in public interest across time and space. In particular, onsite metrics provide high levels of temporal and spatial resolution with a high degree of flexibility. These tools could add reliable information to traditional social surveys and represent an opportunity to improve our understanding of the drivers of interest in conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-309
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume206
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Keywords

  • Conservation awareness
  • Conservation projects
  • Google
  • Internet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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