Tweeting for their lives: Visibility of threatened species on Twitter

Date: 08, May, 2019
Author(s):   Lindall R. Kidd, Emily A. Gregg, Sarah A. Bekessy, Jenny A. Robinson, Georgia E. Garrard
Publisher: Journal for Nature Conservation

Unpopular and uncharismatic species receive less conservation support, potentially impacting their long-term survival. This study assesses the attention directed towards Australian threatened species on the online social network Twitter, an increasingly common way for scientists and the general public to communicate about conservation. We find a difference in how often Twitter users mention (i.e. "tweet") threatened species across different taxa and find that many threatened species are not mentioned at all. As expected, mammals and birds receive the most tweets, with invertebrates and frogs receiving less attention. Threatened species with recovery plans are more likely to be tweeted about than those without. Alarmingly, the majority of threatened species receive little interest on Twitter, indicating the public profile of these species is low. We identify five traits shared by popular threatened species on Twitter and suggest understanding these commonalities can inform conservation education and marketing campaigns aiming to raise the profile of less popular threatened species.