Quantifying the Role of Online News in Linking Conservation Research to Facebook and Twitter

Conserv Biol. 2015 Jun;29(3):825-33. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12455. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


Conservation science needs to engage the general public to ensure successful conservation interventions. Although online technologies such as Twitter and Facebook offer new opportunities to accelerate communication between conservation scientists and the online public, factors influencing the spread of conservation news in online media are not well understood. We explored transmission of conservation research through online news articles with generalized linear mixed-effects models and an information theoretic approach. In particular, we assessed differences in the frequency conservation research is featured on online news sites and the impact of online conservation news content and delivery on Facebook likes and shares and Twitter tweets. Five percent of articles in conservation journals are reported in online news, and the probability of reporting depended on the journal. There was weak evidence that articles on climate change and mammals were more likely to be featured. Online news articles about charismatic mammals with illustrations were more likely to be shared or liked on Facebook and Twitter, but the effect of news sites was much larger. These results suggest journals have the greatest impact on which conservation research is featured and that news site has the greatest impact on how popular an online article will be on Facebook and Twitter.

Keywords: Almetric.com; Facebook; Twitter; Twittter; ciencia de la comunicación; medios sociales; noticias en línea; online news; science communication; social media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Research*
  • Social Media*