Convened by: Ricardo Correia, Paul Jepson, John Mittermeier, Uri Roll, Ivan Jaric, Enrico Di Minin, Andrea Soriano-Redondo, Richard Ladle
Successful nature conservation strategies depend on a deep understanding of human-nature interactions. Understanding the factors driving social and cultural support for conservation actions is therefore a priority for the conservation movement but remains a challenging task, particularly at large spatial scales. The application of culturomics – the study of human culture through the quantitative analysis of changes in word frequencies in large bodies of digital texts – to conservation aims to take advantage of the increasingly widespread access to the internet and other digital infrastructures to study cultural engagements with nature and its components (e.g. species, sites, ecosystems). The exciting new field of conservation culturomics1 can potentially contribute to conservation science, practice and policy in a number of ways. For example, culturomic techniques have been used to recognize conservation-oriented constituencies and demonstrating public interest in nature in different countries and cultures2. A number of studies have also focused on understanding the drivers of public interest in species, which can contribute to identifying conservation emblems and under-appreciated species of conservation concern3. Culturomic techniques have also started to be used for the assessment of the cultural impact of conservation interventions4. The proposed symposium aims to highlight how the field is rapidly evolving through the critical assessment of available methodologies5 and discussion on how they can be expanded to include other aspects such as the analysis of social media generated image and video data6 and sentiment analysis. This promising new field is likely to see important developments in the coming decades as technologies mature and internet access spreads across the world, and its development would greatly benefit from wider discussions and engagement with conservation scientists and practitioners on how its contribution to nature conservation and planetary wellbeing can be maximized.
1. Ladle et al., 2016. Conservation culturomics. Front Ecol Environ 14, 270-276.
2. Funk & Rusowsky, 2014. The importance of cultural knowledge and scale for analysing internet search data as a proxy for public interest toward the environment. Biodivers Conserv, 1-12.
3. Roll et al., 2016. Using Wikipedia page views to explore the cultural importance of global reptiles. Biol Conserv 204, 42-50.
4. Soriano-Redondo et al., 2017. Internet-based monitoring of public perception of conservation. Biol Conserv 206, 304-309.
5. Jaric et al., 2016. Data mining in conservation research using Latin and vernacular species names. Peerj 4, e2202.
6. Di Minin et al., 2015. Prospects and challenges for social media data in conservation science. Front Env Sci 3, 63