Analyzing Google search data to debunk myths about the public's interest in conservation

Zuzana Burivalova, Rhett A. Butler, David S. Wilcove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Biodiversity conservation succeeds only if it has public support, yet many conservation scientists suggest that such support is waning and some fear that the public has lost interest in conservation. Moreover, the public's limited interest in the environment overall might be overwhelmed by concern over a single issue – that of climate change. To understand whether these views are justified, we evaluated public interest in different conservation-related terms by examining internet search trends. We found that contrary to commonly held opinions, public interest in conservation is in fact rising, and that it is tightly and positively correlated with interest in climate change, indicating that the public pays attention to both topics at the same time. Conservation scientists should nurture this growing interest and transform it into actual support for conservation by redoubling efforts to present objective, evidence-based findings about conservation in an accessible, engaging, and relatable way. Such efforts are crucial in a time of increasing political polarization, reduced funding, and deliberate misinformation campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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