Increasing public attention toward North American bird species

Published: 13 March 2024| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/j4m4yk9ym9.2
Alex Huynh


Similar to many other animal taxa, bird species worldwide have experienced significant population declines in recent years. Assessing efforts to combat these losses is important in determining their efficacies as well as highlighting future conservation targets. Public awareness is a key metric for evaluating conservation work. We measured public interest toward 527 North American bird species for which current population loss estimates were recently published in a seminal paper by Rosenberg et al. (2019). We used the Google Trends tool to quantify temporal trends in Google searches for common and scientific species names. Overall, a majority of these bird species (78%) have been increasingly Googled since 2004. This stands in stark contrast to the proportion of increasing Google search trends for worldwide mammal (20%) and amphibian species (8%). The proportion of population loss for these 527 species was not a significant predictor of increasing Google searches. We do show significant differences in public attention toward bird species living in different breeding biomes. We highlight some of the biomes whose species are experiencing increases in Google searches, e.g. wetland birds, as well as those of critical conservation concern that are receiving less public attention, e.g. grassland birds. Together, these results highlight optimistic levels of public interest in declining North American bird populations in comparison to other vertebrates and we discuss how this information may be useful for guiding future conservation efforts.


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Population size and loss estimates were originally published in: "Rosenberg, K.V., Dokter, A.M., Blancher, P.J., Sauer, J.R., Smith, A.C., Smith, P.A., Stanton, J.C., Panjabi, A., Helft, L., Parr, M. and Marra, P.P., 2019. Decline of the North American avifauna. Science, 366 (6461), 120-124." Historic Red List statuses were obtained from the IUCN Red List API. Google Trends data for both common and scientific names were collected from 527 species using the Google Trends tool. Results were averaged across 10 subsamples and corrected by dividing by the Google Trends results for the benchmark term "computer", also averaged across 10 subsamples.


Desales University


Conservation Biology