Social media records hold valuable information for conservation planning

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Shawan Chowdhury , Richard Fuller, Sultan Ahmed, Shofiul Alam, Corey T Callaghan, Priyanka Das, Ricardo Correia, Moreno Di Marco, Enrico Di Minin, Ivan Jarić, Mahzabin Muzahid Labi, Richard J Ladle, Md Rokonuzzaman, Uri Roll, Valerio Sbragaglia, Asma Siddika, Aletta Bonn


Citizen science plays a crucial role in helping monitor biodiversity and inform conservation. With the widespread use of smartphones, many people share biodiversity information on social media, but this information is still not widely used in conservation. Here, focussing on Bangladesh - a tropical mega-diverse and mega-populated country, we examine the potential importance of social media records in conservation decision-making. We show that adding Facebook data to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) data improved the accuracy of conservation planning assessments by identifying additional important conservation areas in the northwest, southeast and centre parts of Bangladesh, extending priority conservation areas by 2000-5000 km2. Community efforts are needed to drive the implementation of the ambitious Post-2020 protected area targets, especially in mega-diverse tropical countries with a lack of reliable and up-to-date species distribution data. We highlight that conservation planning can be enhanced by including available data gathered from social media platforms.



Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Bangladesh, citizen science, conservation planning, crowdsourcing, iEcology, protected area, social media, Tropics, megadiverse countries, Wallacean shortfall


Published: 2023-05-11 15:17

Last Updated: 2023-05-11 19:17

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data availability We obtained the species distribution data in two ways: from GBIF and Facebook. Both GBIF data (GBIF, 2022) and Facebook data (Chowdhury et al., 2022b) are publicly available. Code availability All the R scripts are available in the following public GitHub repository: