Realising the potential of real-time online monitoring for conservation culturomics

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Thomas Frederick Johnson, Richard Cornford, Shawn Dove, Robin Freeman, Joseph Millard 


Environmental monitoring is increasingly shifting towards a set of systems that describe changes in real-time. In ecology specifically, a series of challenges have prevented the roll-out of real-time monitoring for features such as biodiversity change or ecosystem service provision. Conservation culturomics, a field concerned with interactions between people and nature, is well-placed to demonstrate how monitoring might move towards a network of real-time platforms, given its existence almost exclusively in the digital realm. Here we describe a set of considerations associated with the development of real-time monitoring platforms for conservation culturomics. We then introduce a near real-time platform for the Species Awareness Index, a global index of changing biodiversity awareness derived from the rate of change in page views for species on Wikipedia. This platform will update automatically each month, operating in near real-time (hosted here:, with plans to make the underlying data queryable via an API independent of the platform. The real-time SAI will represent the first real-time and entirely automated conservation culturomic platform, and one of the first within the discipline of ecology. We conclude by envisioning a future for real-time monitoring, presenting a general framework for real-time monitoring in ecology, and calling for an online real-time observatory that can evolve with the structure of the web.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Studies, Life Sciences, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Social and Behavioral Sciences


biodiversity, conservation culturomics, real-time monitoring, Wikipedia


Published: 2022-09-09 04:38

Last Updated: 2022-09-10 03:40

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All code and data will be made available at publication in a journal.