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Rare Species Are Valued Big Time

AuthorsAngulo, Elena ; Courchamp, Franck
Issue DateApr-2009
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 4(4): e5215.
AbstractBackground: It has recently been postulated that the value humans place on rarity could cause the extinction of rare species. This is because people are willing to pay the high costs of exploiting the last individuals. Many hobbies, such as ecotourism or the keeping of exotic pets may cause this effect – known as the anthropogenic Allee effect. However, the entire theory relies on the insofar undemonstrated assumption that people do value rarity. Methodology/Principal Findings: In order to quantify how much people valued rare species relative to common ones, we created online slideshows of photographs of either rare or common species on an Internet web site. The slideshow with photographs of rare species attracted more visitors, and visitors spent, in general, more time waiting to view it. Conclusions/Significance: We provide evidence that people value rare more than common species. As we did not target consumers of a specific market, this finding suggests that the anthropogenic Allee effect is likely be driven by a large part of the population. Given the substantial participation in our online experiment, we highlight the potential of the world wide web resource as a tool for conservation action. However, the evidence presented here that the general public value rare species, combined with the assumption that anthropogenic Allee effect is operating, implies that conservationists should be prudent when using rarity to promote conservation.
Publisher version (URL)http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005215
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