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Science & Technology

Study Shows Wikipedia Could Serve As Early Warning Device For Species Extinction

Wednesday 06/March/2019 - 09:27 PM
Sada El Balad
Technical Times
An international team of scientists has discovered that Wikipedia can aid conservationists in identifying which species are in danger of going extinct.

In a new study، they discussed how the volume of internet traffic of a wildlife-related page receives at a given period could be used as an early warning device that the number of a certain species of animal or plant might be dwindling.

Accurate Monitoring Of Species
The researchers reviewed about three years worth of internet views for 31،715 species across 245 language editions of Wikipedia. They found that، for seasonal species، the volume of page views، as well as timing، could serve as a gauge for their presence and abundance in the wild.

This means that a significant dip in internet searches for a particular species compared to the year prior could mean that fewer of them could be thriving and they could be on the verge of extinction. Internet searches could reflect changes in nature before any scientific research could be conducted.

The researchers said that they were quite surprised by their findings.

"People are becoming increasingly detached from nature and as a result، we didn't really expect their activity online to respond to patterns in the natural world،" stated John Mittermeier، a Ph.D. student from the University of Oxford and the lead author of the study. "To see that online activity often correlates strongly with natural phenomena suggests that people are paying attention to the world around them، and from a conservation perspective that is really exciting."

The researchers found several other patterns from the data they analyzed that could aid in future research. They discovered that cultural events like Thanksgiving، for example، draws a spike in internet searches for wild turkeys. The television event "Shark Week" can also drive interest online for shark-related pages.

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