Entrenching biophobia

Soga, M., Gaston, K.J., Fukano, Y. & Evans, M.J. 2023. The vicious cycle of biophobia. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 38, 512-520.

People can express irrational fears and disgust responses towards certain wild organisms. This so-called ‘biophobia’ can be useful and indeed necessary in some circumstances. Biophobia can, however, also lead to excessive distress and anxiety which, in turn, can result in people avoiding interactions with nature. Here, we highlight concern that this reduction in interactions with nature might lead to progressive increases in biophobia, entrenching it more in individuals and across society. We propose the ‘vicious cycle of biophobia’, a concept that encapsulates how excessive aversion towards nature might emerge and grow in society. The vicious cycle of biophobia risks accelerating the extinction of experience, leading to long-term adverse consequences for the conservation of biodiversity.