Photos of plants and animals posted on social media can help protect biodiversity, especially in tropical regions, Report informs referring to Phys.org.
This is the conclusion of a team of researchers led by the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU), and the University of Queensland (UQ).
Recently published in BioScience, One Earth, and Conservation Biology, the three studies investigated the benefits of using Facebook data for conservation assessments in Bangladesh. The researchers point out that social media can support species monitoring and contribute to conservation assessments in tropical countries.
In their studies, the scientists scraped Facebook groups for nature photographs taken in Bangladesh. The information they were able to derive from the species and location information in the photos was entered into a common data pool with data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
By integrating Facebook data, the research team was able to compile more than 44,000 records for nearly 1,000 animal species, 288 of which are considered endangered.
More than 25% of the data came from Facebook groups, and more than half of the data was for butterflies and birds.
“If we only used the data from the GBIF, we would have missed out on data on the distribution of hundreds of endangered species,” says Dr. Shawan Chowdhury.
Using this new database, the research team created a map of particularly suitable habitats for the different animal species and compared it with existing protected areas.
Currently, only 4.6% of Bangladesh’s land area is designated as protected areas, much of which is located in the southwest of the country.
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