Transcience in public attention to biological conservation

Jarić, I., Correia, R.A., Bonaiuto, M., Brook, B.W., Courchamp, F., Firth, J.A., Gaston, K.J., Heger, T., Jeschke, J.M., Ladle, R.J., Meinard, Y., Roberts, D.L., Sherren, K., Soga, M., Soriano-Redondo, A., Veríssimo, D. & Roll, U. 2022. Transience of public attention in conservation science. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, online early.

Societal awareness of, and engagement with, environmental problems is a critical prerequisite for effective conservation programs. Research has revealed a strong general pattern whereby public attention received by cultural products diminishes over time. If transposed to conservation, this transience of societal attention is likely to be of major importance because it can limit motivation to support conservation efforts. We address the concept of attention transience applied to conservation, discuss its major drivers and mechanisms, and provide a short overview of conservation issues for which this phenomenon is expected to be particularly relevant. Attention transience leaves a brief window of opportunity for conservationists to focus public awareness and to mobilize necessary support. In this context, it is critical to maximize the conservation benefits generated during these short bursts of attention, especially through tailored conservation marketing campaigns with targeted message framing and regular efforts to refocus attention on key issues.