Flagship species are widely used in conservation but this single species approach has attracted criticism. One response is the “flagship fleet,” which uses several flagship species in one conservation marketing campaign. However, marketing theory suggests multibrand campaigns can be counter-productive. Here, we develop an evaluation strategy for conservation flagships, and use it to: measure the effectiveness of an existing bird flagship species; detect whether additional species are needed; and, if appropriate, identify which species should be added to create a flagship fleet. We show the bird species has high levels of visibility and recognition, but has traits that appeal to only half the target audience. We also show that this shortcoming could be overcome by forming a flagship fleet based on adding an endemic mammal or fish species but there are additional strategic considerations that must be taken into account, namely in terms of costs and potential future conflicts.
Communication and Education
The marine environment plays a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth as well as supporting human well-being. An array of ecosystem services are obtained from the marine environment and efforts have been taken to safeguard these invaluable services, namely through the institution of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The success of MPAs depends heavily on social factors, and therefore Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) can play a vital role in supporting MPAs by fostering related environmental knowledge, attitudes and values among local communities. This study explored the perceptions of key stakeholders in Malta with regards to the current state of play surrounding MPAs and ESD as well as its future direction. The research methodology had qualitative underpinnings and included 12 extended semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. The study found that there is a lack of ESD addressing the marine environment in Malta but that stakeholders perceive ESD as being of critical importance in achieving effective MPAs. The research indicates that cooperation between stakeholders is the preferred approach to managing the MPAs. Based on the research findings, it is recommended that ESD surrounding the marine environment be further promoted within Malta through various means in order to promote MPA success and increase the engagement of local communities in marine conservation efforts. A contextualized Education Centered Management (ECM) model that illustrates the various connections and influences that lead to an effective MPA is proposed.
This article draws on a process of collaborative research associated with the brown crab fishery in Devon, UK. It charts the mobilisation of knowledge in the struggle over ‘ownership’ and influence in the coastal zone. Using methods from the social and behavioural sciences the article outlines different perspectives on a number of key contestations across the domains of sustainable use and a new conservation agenda ushered in by the introduction of European and UK national marine spatial planning tools for the South Coast of England. Along with their introduction and the ‘opening up’ of marine space, new opportunities emerge for fishers, who, by building alliances with scientists and managers, and by drawing upon the methods and materials of science, are better able to negotiate for their own interests over access and control of marine resources. The paper concludes by outlining the emergence of a new type of scientifically literate fisherman, a ‘political actor with a new crew’, better able to implement collective actions towards the sustainable use of brown crab resources.
Boaters and anglers who move between bodies of water are a primary cause of the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), which are non-native plants or animals that pose a threat to water quality, disrupt ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and cause economic harm. Research suggests that engagement with these individuals through opinion leaders within their social networks has the potential to encourage attitude and behavior change. Using the theory of planned behavior as a framework, this article explores factors that may enhance AIS outreach behaviors among opinion leaders, namely, bait shop owners and their employees, to communicate with their customers. The results of this study suggest that perceptions about normative social pressures are a strong predictor of intentions to engage in outreach activities, but perceived behavioral control is a stronger predictor of actual engagement with their customers.
The rising prominence of more rigorous approaches to measuring conservation outcomes has included greater adoption of impact evaluation by conservation non-governmental organizations (CNGOs). Within the scientific literature, however, little consideration has been given to the unique and specific roles of CNGOs in advancing impact evaluation. We explore these issues in the context of one CNGO—Conservation International (CI)—and its experiences producing, using and funding impact evaluations over the past decade. We examine the contributions of impact evaluation to CI's mission at three different stages of CI's strategy: innovation, demonstration and amplification. Furthermore, we review incentives and barriers encountered by CI in its 10+ years' experience in impact evaluation. More coordinated and strategic use of impact evaluation by CNGOs would facilitate learning and promote accountability across the conservation community.
What role should scientist play in correcting bad science, fake science, and pseudoscience presented in popular media? Here, we present a case study based on fake documentaries and discuss effective social media strategies for scientists who want to engage with the public on issues of bad science, pseudoscience, and fake science. We identify two tracks that scientists can use to maximize the broad dissemination of corrective and educational content: that of an audience builder or an expert resource. Finally, we suggests that scientists familiarize themselves with common sources of misinformation within their field, so that they can be better able to respond quickly when factually inaccurate content begins to spread.
There is increasing awareness of the need to meaningfully engage society in efforts to tackle marine conservation challenges. Public perceptions research (PPR) in a marine conservation context provides tools to see the sea through the multiple lenses with which society interprets both the marine environment and marine conservation efforts. Traditionally, PPR is predominantly a social science which has considerable interdisciplinarity, owing to the variety of disciplines which contribute to its delivery and benefit from its outputs. Similarly, the subjects of a marine application of PPR are diverse, and relate to public perceptions of any marine component or activity. Evidence shows this is a growing area of science, and the paper presents a qualitative approach to addressing key questions to inform the continuing development of this field through a workshop held at the Third International Marine Conservation Congress 2014. Key findings are discussed under the themes of 1) the benefits of PPR to marine conservation; 2) priorities for PPR to support marine conservation; 3) making PPR accessible to marine practitioners and policy makers; and 4) interdisciplinary research collaboration to deliver PPR. The workshop supported the development of a framework which illustrates: the key conditions which can support PPR to take place; the types of research which PPR can be used to address; the applications of PPR findings for marine conservation; and the types of marine conservation benefits which can be delivered. As PPR gains an increasing presence in marine conservation, it is hoped that this discussion and framework will support researchers and practitioners to identify opportunities for PPR to deliver benefits, and to work together to achieve these.
Addressing impacts from human activities requires the change of current practices. However, reaching a target audience about conservation issues and influencing their behaviour is not easy in a world where people are continually bombarded with information, and distractions are permanently available. Although not typically considered to be part of the conservation science toolbox, marketing techniques were designed in the commercial sector to identify and influence human preferences and behaviour by placing target audiences at the core of the marketing process. It thus seems reasonable that the same marketing principles and tools could and should be used to address pressing conservation issues. In this manuscript, we provide an introduction to the main objectives of marketing and illustrate how these can be applied to conservation and animal welfare issues. To that end we offer two examples: Project Ocean, where a major UK retailer joined forces with the Zoological Society of London to influence consumer behaviour around seafood; and Blackfish, which coupled social media with an award-winning documentary to create a discussion around the welfare of large cetaceans in captivity. Without the ability to influence human behaviour, a conservationists' role will likely be limited to that of describing the loss of biodiversity and the decline of the environment. We thus hope that conservation practitioners can embrace marketing as a fundamental component of the conservation toolbox.
Threatening and connecting messages are two types of appeals commonly used to encourage conservation behaviors, yet little research has examined their psychological impacts and behavioral outcomes. This paper describes two studies contrasting these approaches with a neutral comparison and testing their effects on state levels of negative affect, caring, and openness, psychological states which we expected in turn would encourage conservation behavior. Participants viewed visually identical nature videos with no text, connecting text or negative text. They then reported on their state experiences, and were asked to engage in conservation behaviors, including supporting conservation organizations. Findings showed that connecting messages increased caring and openness, and decreased negative affect, and by doing so elicited more conservation behaviors. On the other hand, threatening messages showed no beneficial effects above a neutral comparison without an appeal. Our findings, which we contextualize in motivational theory, can be used to inform the use of messages to promote conservation.
Over the past decade, ocean acidification (OA) has emerged as a major concern in ocean science. The field of OA is based on certainties—uptake of carbon dioxide into the global ocean alters its carbon chemistry, and many marine organisms, especially calcifiers, are sensitive to this change. However, the field must accommodate uncertainties about the seriousness of these impacts as it synthesizes and draws conclusions from multiple disciplines. There is pressure from stakeholders to expeditiously inform society about the extent to which OA will impact marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Ultimately, decisions about actions related to OA require evaluating risks about the likelihood and magnitude of these impacts. As the scientific literature accumulates, some of the uncertainty related to single-species sensitivity to OA is diminishing. Difficulties remain in scaling laboratory results to species and ecosystem responses in nature, though modeling exercises provide useful insight. As recognition of OA grows, scientists’ ability to communicate the certainties and uncertainties of our knowledge on OA is crucial for interaction with decision makers. In this regard, there are a number of valuable practices that can be drawn from other fields, especially the global climate change community. A generally accepted set of best practices that scientists follow in their discussions of uncertainty would be helpful for the community engaged in ocean acidification.