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Estimating the extent and structure of trade in horticultural orchids via social media

Hinsley, Amy, Lee, Tamsin E., Harrison, Joseph R., Roberts, David L. (2016) Estimating the extent and structure of trade in horticultural orchids via social media. Conservation Biology, 30 (5). pp. 1038-1047. ISSN 0888-8892. (doi:10.1111/cobi.12721)

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12721

Abstract

The wildlife trade is a lucrative industry involving thousands of animal and plant species. The increasing use of the internet for both legal and illegal wildlife trade is well documented, but there is evidence that trade may be emerging on new online technologies such as social media. Using the orchid trade as a case study, we conducted the first systematic survey of wildlife trade on an international social-media website. We focused on themed forums (groups), where people with similar interests can interact by uploading images or text (posts) that are visible to other group members. We used social-network analysis to examine the ties between 150 of these orchid-themed groups to determine the structure of the network. We found 4 communities of closely linked groups based around shared language. Most trade occurred in a community that consisted of English-speaking and Southeast Asian groups. In addition to the network analysis, we randomly sampled 30 groups from the whole network to assess the prevalence of trade in cultivated and wild plants. Of 55,805 posts recorded over 12 weeks, 8.9% contained plants for sale, and 22–46% of these posts pertained to wild-collected orchids. Although total numbers of posts about trade were relatively small, the large proportion of posts advertising wild orchids for sale supports calls for better monitoring of social media for trade in wild-collected plants.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/cobi.12721
Uncontrolled keywords: e-commerce, online trade, ornamental plant trade, social commerce, social network analysis, wildlife trade
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Suzanne Duffy
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2016 09:41 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:43 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56857 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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