Rocky intertidal habitats in urbanized settings, such as in southern California, USA, are heavily perturbed by human visitors (tidepoolers) through the deleterious activities of collecting, handling, and trampling. To protect rocky intertidal biota, certain locations have been designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), yet MPA status can be ineffective when public knowledge of regulations is low and regulations do not protect flora and fauna from the impacts of handling and trampling. To help reduce detrimental activities of visitors, propagate environmentally-safe tidepooling behaviors, and increase public knowledge of MPA regulations, two outreach tools were instituted in southern California, USA: 1) an education program whereby trained educators are on-site, interacting with the public and educating visitors about MPA regulations, and 2) the ISOpod (Interactive Sealife Outreach pod) vehicle, a mobile tidepool exhibit parked near the site for visitors to observe organisms in a controlled setting and where MPA awareness is emphasized. To determine if these tools were effective in reducing deleterious activities, visitors were discretely observed at two sites, counted, and placed into behavior categories under four scenarios based on combinations of the presence and absence of both the ISOpod and educators. A questionnaire was conducted at one site to determine if MPA regulation and conservation knowledge increased with public interaction with outreach programs. The ISOpod and, in part, educators were effective in reducing the frequency of individuals engaged in detrimental activities. This occurred despite high MPA awareness of visitors, which was further increased by public interaction with the ISOpod. Results from this study suggest that outreach programs focused on conservation education can be effective options to assist with protection of coastal ecosystems.
Communication and Education
Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are defined as the non-material benefits that arise from human-ecosystem relationships. Such benefits contribute to quality of life and positive sentiment towards protected areas but are difficult to quantify, especially at large spatial scales. Building on recent studies, we assess CES in Brazil's largest marine protected area (MPA) using user-contributed georeferenced photographs from a popular image- and video-hosting website. In total, we assessed 1,984 photographs taken by 207 users between 2010 and 2016. The most represented CES categories were landscape appreciation and social recreation, clearly reflecting the obvious attractions of this tropical beach location. Artistic/cultural expressions and appreciation, and nature appreciation where also highly represented, though no photographs depicting educational engagements or scientific research were identified. Engagements with CES had clear spatial and temporal patterns relating to user behaviour and reflecting the biophysical and infrastructural characteristics of different sites within this MPA. The broad spatial coverage and high spatio-temporal resolution of the data makes this approach ideal for identifying CES hotspots/coldspots and, despite limitations, holds great potential to monitor the impact of management interventions on CES provision. Our study highlights how the analysis of high volumes of digital photographs extends the methodological tool-box available to researchers and provides a powerful new means to quantify and map CES at broad spatial scales.
Several calls to action urge scientists and science communicators to engage more with online communities. While these calls have been answered by a high percentage of scientists and science communicators online, it often remains unclear what are the best models for effective communication. Best practices and methods for online science communication can benefit from experimental and quantitative research addressing how and when users engage with online content. This study addresses with quantitative and predictive models a key question for the popular, but often-ignored in science communication, social media platform Facebook. Specifically, this study examines the impact of imagery through quantification of likes, comments, and shares on Facebook posts. Here, I show that a basic quantitative model can be useful in predicting response to marine organism imagery on Facebook. The results of this online experiment suggest image type, novelty, and aesthetics impact the number of likes, shares, and comments on a post. In addition, the likes, shares, and comments on images did not follow traditional definitions of “charismatic megafauna”, with cephalopods and bony fishes receiving more interactions than cartilaginous fishes and marine mammals. Length and quality of caption did not significantly impact likes, comments, or shares. This study provides one of the first quantitative analysis of virality of scientific images via social media. The results challenge previously held conceptions of social media scientific outreach including increasing emphasis on imagery selection and curation, notions of which taxa the public connect with, and role of captions for imagery.
Effective science communication requires assembling scientists with knowledge relevant to decision makers, translating that knowledge into useful terms, establishing trusted two-way communication channels, evaluating the process, and refining it as needed. Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda [National Research Council (2017)] surveys the scientific foundations for accomplishing these tasks, the research agenda for improving them, and the essential collaborative relations with decision makers and communication professionals. Recognizing the complexity of the science, the decisions, and the communication processes, the report calls for a systems approach. This perspective offers an approach to creating such systems by adapting scientific methods to the practical constraints of science communication. It considers staffing (are the right people involved?), internal collaboration (are they talking to one another?), and external collaboration (are they talking to other stakeholders?). It focuses on contexts where the goal of science communication is helping people to make autonomous choices rather than promoting specific behaviors (e.g., voter turnout, vaccination rates, energy consumption). The approach is illustrated with research in two domains: decisions about preventing sexual assault and responding to pandemic disease.
Twitter accounts have already been used in many scientometric studies, but the meaningfulness of the data for societal impact measurements in research evaluation has been questioned. Earlier research focused on social media counts and neglected the interactive nature of the data. We explore a new network approach based on Twitter data in which we compare author keywords to hashtags as indicators of topics. We analyze the topics of tweeted publications and compare them with the topics of all publications (tweeted and not tweeted). Our exploratory study is based on a comprehensive publication set of climate change research. We are interested in whether Twitter data are able to reveal topics of public discussions which can be separated from research-focused topics. We find that the most tweeted topics regarding climate change research focus on the consequences of climate change for humans. Twitter users are interested in climate change publications which forecast effects of a changing climate on the environment and to adaptation, mitigation and management issues rather than in the methodology of climate-change research and causes of climate change. Our results indicate that publications using scientific jargon are less likely to be tweeted than publications using more general keywords. Twitter networks seem to be able to visualize public discussions about specific topics.
The Ocean Literacy movement is predominantly driven forward by scientists and educators working in subject areas associated with ocean science. While some in the scientific community have heeded the responsibility to communicate with the general public to increase scientific literacy, reaching and engaging with diverse audiences remains a challenge. Many academic institutions, research centers, and individual scientists use social network sites (SNS) like Twitter to not only promote conferences, journal publications, and scientific reports, but to disseminate resources and information that have the potential to increase the scientific literacy of diverse audiences. As more people turn to social media for news and information, SNSs like Twitter have a great potential to increase ocean literacy, so long as disseminators understand the best practices and limitations of SNS communication. This study analyzed the Twitter account of MaREI – Ireland’s Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy – coordinated by University College Cork Ireland, as a case study. We looked specifically at posts related to ocean literacy to determine what types of audiences are being engaged and what factors need to be considered to increase engagement with intended audiences. Two main findings are presented in this paper. First, we present overall user retweet frequency as a function of post characteristics, highlighting features significant in influencing users’ retweet behavior. Second, we separate users into two types – INREACH and OUTREACH – and identify post characteristics that are statistically relevant in increasing the probability of engaging with an OUTREACH user. The results of this study provide novel insight into the ways in which science-based Twitter users can better use the platform as a vector for science communication and outreach.
Mermaiding, the act of swimming in a monofin tail costume, is becoming increasingly popular. Although some merfolk (mermaids and mermen) only swim recreationally, many professional merfolk forge careers teaching at mermaid schools or performing at events such as birthday parties, corporate events, and special aquarium events. Many professional merfolk self-identify as ocean activists and/or ocean ambassadors. They use their performed identities and events as platforms for spreading ocean awareness and advocacy. Such exploitation of fantasy has been described within the merfolk community as a means to disseminate important conservation message within a positive outreach framework. This research explores the role of mermaiding and merfolk events in spreading ocean-related conservation messaging. It uses visual methods as part of a qualitative multimethods approach to analyze multiple sources of secondary data, including photographs, podcasts, videos, and blogs to contextualize the appearances of merfolk in performance events. Findings were used to produce a model depicting the creation of conservation-based knowledge sharing platforms through the incorporation of fantasy in and genera reenchantment of events.
The 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution established the promotion of environmental education (EE) as a Government’s public policy, which constitutes an important legal frame addressing this subject in Brazil, also considering the EE activities in coastal and marine protected areas (CMPAs). This chapter presents the legal frame, concepts, and potentialities of EE in CMPAs. Also, it highlights some experiences of EE in Brazilian PAs particularly to identify gaps, potentialities, and specificities for the development of coastal and marine environmental education (CMEE). Despite the conceptual and legal support for the development of EE activities in CMPAs, managers have a great difficulty to achieve these goals given the lack of funding, resources, personnel, and training, among other challenges that will be presented throughout this chapter. Thereby, environmental interpretation strategies assume great importance as well as citizen science initiatives and partnerships between public entities, civil society, and educational institutions. Considering this, it is of fundamental importance to encourage the social participation and diversity of partnerships. Also, it is necessary to test and improve CMEE methodologies in order to potentiate the teaching and learning process and to strength the democratic participation in the CMPAs management. In addition, it is clear that the CMEE needs financial independence, which could be supplied by the ecotourism in the CMPAs, but such initiatives are still incipient in Brazil.
Creativity and playfulness are important skills that educators use to promote environmental awareness and changes in beliefs, attitudes, and values. The production of reusable and easily available didactic materials can assist in this process. The purpose of this chapter is to present some teaching and learning didactic materials developed in Brazil for different marine and coastal environmental education activities. We will present some examples of materials produced for interpretive trails, as well as books, guides, folders, radio programs, games, and materials for exhibitions. Also, we will reflect upon the necessity of enhancing the dissemination and sharing of these materials among Brazilian environmental educators as well as their proper evaluation.
Environmental non‐governmental organizations (ENGOs) largely select flagship species for conservation marketing based on their aesthetic appeal. However, little is known about the fundraising effectiveness of this approach or how it compares to ecosystem conservation campaigns that use habitat types as flagships. By performing a willingness to donate (WTD) survey of potential online donors from Finland, we identified which motivations and donor characteristics influence their preferences for a range of different flagship species and ecosystems. Using the contingent valuation method and the payment card approach, we found the combined funding for eight mammal flagship species was 29% higher funding than for eight bird flagship species. Furthermore, the aesthetically more appealing species, as well as the species and ecosystems that are native to Finland, attracted the most funding. We then used ordinal logistic regression to identify the factors influencing a donor's WTD, finding that knowledge of biodiversity conservation and familiarity with the flagship was associated with an increased WTD to birds and ecosystems, and people with higher education levels had an increased WTD to ecosystems. Surprisingly, species aesthetic appeal was not related to an increased WTD, although “need of conservation” was, suggesting that highlighting the plight of these less appealing threatened species or ecosystems could raise money. Our results suggest that the factors driving donating to mammals, birds or ecosystems differ, and so underline the importance of considering the diverse motivations behind donation behaviour in fundraising campaigns. They also provide new evidence of the motivations of online donors, an under‐studied group who are likely to become an increasingly important source of conservation funding.