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Ecological correlates of the popularity of birds and butterflies in Internet information resources


M. Żmihorski, Museum and Inst. of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, PL-00-679 Warsaw, Poland. E-mail:


The success of conservation programs depends on using appropriate methods to demonstrate the importance of conservation to society. For example, flagship species are among the key marketing tools to motivate public support. However, they are rarely selected in a systematic, manner. In this study we addressed the issue of the colonization of human information resources by birds and butterflies in the context of wildlife conservation. We used a simple method to measure the popularity of species based on Google browsing and made an attempt to link biological characteristics of the species with their popularity in human information resources. Biological traits of species contributed significantly to explaining the occupancy (invasion) of cyberspace by the species. Commonness and body size of the species appeared to be the most informative predictors of their Google score. We believe that these results may be used by conservation organizations to assist in the selection of flagship/charismatic species, and their use in logos, for TV programs or for other public presentations. Moreover, we showed that some biological traits can affect the popularity of wildlife in society and in virtual resources.

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