Exploring the advances in using social media data for conservation science
Convened by: Tuuli Toivonen, Enrico Di Minin, Anna Hausmann, Christoph Fink, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Henrikki Tenkanen, Tuomo Hiippala
Understanding complex human-environment interactions underpins successful conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. In addition to active data collection campaigns, a wealth of user-generated content available from different social media platforms can provide information useful for conservation. Location-based social media may reveal interesting patterns of nature recreation, or areas where human activities and observations might be detrimental. We have shown that social media data reveals spatial and temporal patterns of visitors in national parks and tells about the activities and preferences of people (1-3). Furthermore, we are now using advanced machine learning methods to automatically identify content pertaining illegal wildlife trade on social media (4). However, further exploration of efficient analysis methods, sources of bias and ethical questions are needed in order to leverage the full potential of social media data in conservation science and practice. Also new applications are yet to be discovered.
Our workshop is based on group discussions and aims at building knowledge-base and exchange of ideas on (i) what kind of information can be retrieved from social media platforms, (ii) how social media data analysis could benefit conservation science and planetary wellbeing (iii) what is the state-of-the art in advanced social media data analysis and (iv) what are the potential of these approaches for real-world conservation challenges.
The workshop is organized by two interrelated research projects at the Digital Geography Lab, University of Helsinki: Social Media for Conservation Science -project and the Illegal Wildlife Trade -project. We welcome conservation scientists and practitioners interested in recent advances and possibilities of social media data analysis to the workshop. Prior to the event, we ask the participants to take a look at the background material online (www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/digital-geography-lab/eccb2018-workshop).
1. Tenkanen, H., Di Minin, E., Heikinheimo, V., Hausmann, A., Herbst, M., Kajala, L., Toivonen, T., 2017. Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter: Assessing the usability of social media data for visitor monitoring in protected areas. Sci. Rep. 7. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18007-4
2. Hausmann, A., Toivonen, T., Slotow, R., Tenkanen, H., Moilanen, A., Heikinheimo, V., Di Minin, E., 2017. Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature-Based Experiences in Protected Areas. Conserv. Lett. doi:10.1111/conl.12343
3. Heikinheimo, V., Di Minin, E., Tenkanen, H., Hausmann, A., Erkkonen, J., Toivonen, T., 2017. User-generated geographic information for visitor monitoring in a national park: A comparison of social media data and visitor survey. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 6. doi:10.3390/ijgi6030085
4. Di Minin, E., Fink, C., Tenkanen, H., Hiippala, T., 2018. Machine learning for tracking illegal wildlife trade on social media. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1. doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0466-x