Analysis of the Capacity of Google Trends to Measure Interest in Conservation Topics and the Role of Online News

Le T. P. Nghiem, Sarah K. Papworth, Felix K. S. Lim, Luis R. Carrasco, Zhong-Ke Gao
2016 PLoS ONE  
With the continuous growth of internet usage, Google Trends has emerged as a source of information to investigate how social trends evolve over time. Knowing how the level of interest in conservation topics-approximated using Google search volume-varies over time can help support targeted conservation science communication. However, the evolution of search volume over time and the mechanisms that drive peaks in searches are poorly understood. We conducted time series analyses on Google search
more » ... ta from 2004 to 2013 to investigate: (i) whether interests in selected conservation topics have declined and (ii) the effect of news reporting and academic publishing on search volume. Although trends were sensitive to the term used as benchmark, we did not find that public interest towards conservation topics such as climate change, ecosystem services, deforestation, orangutan, invasive species and habitat loss was declining. We found, however, a robust downward trend for endangered species and an upward trend for ecosystem services.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152802 pmid:27028399 pmcid:PMC4814066 fatcat:htxrby4cbbhwfi5utsa2qwqcse