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Exploring Shared Public Perspectives on Biodiversity Attributes

Austen, Gail E., Dallimer, Martin, Irvine, Katherine N., Maund, Phoebe R., Fish, Robert D., Davies, Zoe G. (2021) Exploring Shared Public Perspectives on Biodiversity Attributes. People and Nature, . ISSN 2575-8314. (doi:10.1002/pan3.10237) (KAR id:88362)


1. Researchers, practitioners and policymakers have widely documented the multifarious ways that nature influences human well‐being. However, we still have only a limited understanding of how the public interact with, respond to and talk about attributes of biodiversity.

2. We used image‐based Q methodology to explore the shared and contrasting perspectives people hold for biodiversity. This approach is a powerful way of allowing people to articulate what is, or is not, important to them, free from constraints associated with statement‐based stimuli.

3. We used British woodlands as a study system, as they are accessible and well‐visited by the public. The elements of biodiversity incorporated in the Q methodology represented vertebrates, invertebrates, trees and understorey plants and fungi.

4. The shared public perspectives varied, and the reasons underpinning those perspectives were rich and diverse. People articulated reasons related to an array of biodiversity attributes (e.g. functions, behaviours, colours, smells, shapes). Many of the perspectives transcended specific species or taxonomic groups.

5. Although woodlands were used as a study system, people referenced perceptions and experiences external to this habitat (e.g. within their gardens) and associated with their everyday lives. Cultural influences and memories linked to particular people and places were also prominent.

6. Few of the shared perspectives map onto the objective measures and dimensions that researchers use to describe and categorise biodiversity (e.g. rarity, ecosystem service provision).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/pan3.10237
Projects: ERC 2016-CoG 726104 RELATE
Uncontrolled keywords: Britain, culture, ecosystem services, human wellbeing, human–nature interactions, Q methodology, sensory, woodland
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: European Research Council (
Depositing User: Gail Austen
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2021 09:32 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 14:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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