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Thylacine and Tasmanian devil: between hope and reality a lesson to be learnt from Google Trends search data

Thylacine and Tasmanian devil: between hope and reality a lesson to be learnt from Google Trends... The two iconic Tasmanian species, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), are of great interest to the general public and the media. The most likely extinct Tasmanian wolf or tiger, the thylacine, symbolises human responsibility for nature and species conservation and inspired the National Threatened Species Day, which commemorates the death of the last thylacine at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on 7 September 1936 to raise awareness of endangered plants and animals. Since the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease critically endangered the survival of the largest remaining native carnivore (S. harrisii) today, this has generated both scientific interest and the interest of the general public. Google Trends has already been used as a tool for documenting and investigating the information needs and concerns of the population, as has been shown using the example of diseases. In this study, Google Trends data were used to examine the seasonality of the search term thylacine sightings and the development of the frequency of different search terms in the period between 2004 and 2020. As a result, relative search intensities for thylacine cloning and cloning extinct species have shown a decrease over time. While Google Trends cannot clearly determine search motivation, search terms can be selected for the examinations that document more hope or a rational need for information or concern. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Australian Journal of Zoology CSIRO Publishing

Thylacine and Tasmanian devil: between hope and reality a lesson to be learnt from Google Trends search data

Australian Journal of Zoology , Volume 67 (4): 5 – Oct 30, 2020

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Publisher
CSIRO Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
0004-959X
eISSN
1446-5698
DOI
10.1071/ZO20073
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The two iconic Tasmanian species, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), are of great interest to the general public and the media. The most likely extinct Tasmanian wolf or tiger, the thylacine, symbolises human responsibility for nature and species conservation and inspired the National Threatened Species Day, which commemorates the death of the last thylacine at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on 7 September 1936 to raise awareness of endangered plants and animals. Since the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease critically endangered the survival of the largest remaining native carnivore (S. harrisii) today, this has generated both scientific interest and the interest of the general public. Google Trends has already been used as a tool for documenting and investigating the information needs and concerns of the population, as has been shown using the example of diseases. In this study, Google Trends data were used to examine the seasonality of the search term thylacine sightings and the development of the frequency of different search terms in the period between 2004 and 2020. As a result, relative search intensities for thylacine cloning and cloning extinct species have shown a decrease over time. While Google Trends cannot clearly determine search motivation, search terms can be selected for the examinations that document more hope or a rational need for information or concern.

Journal

Australian Journal of ZoologyCSIRO Publishing

Published: Oct 30, 2020

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