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Children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity: which animals have the lion's share of environmental awareness?

Children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity: which animals have the lion's share of environmental awareness?
Children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity: which animals have the lion's share of environmental awareness?
Globally, natural ecosystems are being lost to agricultural land at an unprecedented rate. This land-use often results in significant reductions in abundance and diversity of the flora and fauna as well as alterations in their composition. Despite this, there is little public perception of which taxa are most important in terms of their total biomass, biodiversity or the ecosystem services they perform. Such awareness is important for conservation, as without appreciation of their value and conservation status, species are unlikely to receive adequate conservation protection. We investigated children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity by asking primary-age children, visiting the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge to draw their ideal rainforest. By recording the frequency at which children drew different climatic, structural, vegetative and faunal components of the rainforest, we were able to quantify children's understanding of a rainforest environment. We investigated children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity by comparing the relative numbers of the taxa drawn with the actual contributions made by these taxa to total rainforest biomass and global biodiversity. We found that children have a sophisticated view of the rainforest, incorporating many habitat features and a diverse range of animals. However, some taxa were over-represented (particularly mammals, birds and reptiles) and others under-represented (particularly insects and annelids) relative to their contribution to total biomass and species richness. Scientists and naturalists must continue to emphasise the diversity and functional importance of lesser-known taxa through public communication and outdoor events to aid invertebrate conservation and to ensure that future generations are inspired to become naturalists themselves.
1932-6203
e2579
Snaddon, Jake L.
31a601f7-c9b0-45e2-b59b-fda9a0c5a54b
Turner, Edgar C.
eb83e88d-a250-4c65-9b1e-0113d778fdd2
Foster, William A.
70203963-790e-408c-a632-f8e40c504d59
Snaddon, Jake L.
31a601f7-c9b0-45e2-b59b-fda9a0c5a54b
Turner, Edgar C.
eb83e88d-a250-4c65-9b1e-0113d778fdd2
Foster, William A.
70203963-790e-408c-a632-f8e40c504d59

Snaddon, Jake L., Turner, Edgar C. and Foster, William A. (2008) Children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity: which animals have the lion's share of environmental awareness? PLoS ONE, 3 (7), e2579. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002579).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Globally, natural ecosystems are being lost to agricultural land at an unprecedented rate. This land-use often results in significant reductions in abundance and diversity of the flora and fauna as well as alterations in their composition. Despite this, there is little public perception of which taxa are most important in terms of their total biomass, biodiversity or the ecosystem services they perform. Such awareness is important for conservation, as without appreciation of their value and conservation status, species are unlikely to receive adequate conservation protection. We investigated children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity by asking primary-age children, visiting the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge to draw their ideal rainforest. By recording the frequency at which children drew different climatic, structural, vegetative and faunal components of the rainforest, we were able to quantify children's understanding of a rainforest environment. We investigated children's perceptions of rainforest biodiversity by comparing the relative numbers of the taxa drawn with the actual contributions made by these taxa to total rainforest biomass and global biodiversity. We found that children have a sophisticated view of the rainforest, incorporating many habitat features and a diverse range of animals. However, some taxa were over-represented (particularly mammals, birds and reptiles) and others under-represented (particularly insects and annelids) relative to their contribution to total biomass and species richness. Scientists and naturalists must continue to emphasise the diversity and functional importance of lesser-known taxa through public communication and outdoor events to aid invertebrate conservation and to ensure that future generations are inspired to become naturalists themselves.

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Published date: July 2008
Organisations: Centre for Biological Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 359407
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/359407
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 7219566c-aee7-408b-8efd-19dfcc9b93c6
ORCID for Jake L. Snaddon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3549-5472

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Date deposited: 01 Nov 2013 13:58
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:23

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Author: Jake L. Snaddon ORCID iD
Author: Edgar C. Turner
Author: William A. Foster

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