Conservation culturomics

Whilst it is clear that some species have greater cultural value than others this fact is not accounted for in any systematic way in conservation planning or prioritisation frameworks and is risk profiling of investments in companies with land assets.  My and Richard Ladles labs are leading research to systematically assess the ‘culturalness’ of species and conservation areas using novel ‘big data’ techniques and an approach called culturomics.

Briefly, culturomics measures the frequencies of terms in digital corpora. it is based on the assumption that words are symbolic representations of concepts, places or objects and the frequency they are used or written provided information on their cultural visibility. There are non-trival challenges associated with the semantic complexity of words and we have found ways to deal with some of the big ones. Our paper Conservation Culturomics was pubslished in Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment in June 2016 and in Feb 2016 our first application was published in PeerJ.  The study led by Ricardo Correia explored the internet saliency of Brazilian bird species.

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