Patterns in the natural world can be reflected in the virtual world, researchers found. Looking at Wikipedia page view records, they found people’s online interests in plants and animals followed seasonal rhythms. The findings, they say, could suggest new ways to measure how much people care about nature, and which species and areas might be the most effective targets for conservation. The team thinks it may even be possible to measure changes in the presence and abundance of species by seeing how much internet activity there is about them. Researchers also noted spikes around cultural events, such as page views for wild turkeys around Thanksgiving and spring hunting season, and searches for sharks during the TV event “Shark Week.”
Read the study in PLOS Biology.