Social marketing campaigns use marketing techniques to influence human behavior for the greater social good. In conservation, social marketing campaigns have been used to influence behavior for the benefit of biodiversity as well as society. However, there are few evaluations of their effectiveness. We used General Elimination Methodology, a theory‐driven qualitative evaluation method, to assess the long‐term impacts of a social marketing campaign on human behavior and biodiversity. We evaluated a 1998 Rare Pride Campaign on the island of Bonaire, designed to increase the population of the lora (Amazona barbadensis), a threatened parrot species. To evaluate the campaignâ€™s impacts, we interviewed a range of stakeholder groups to understand their perceptions of the drivers of the changes in the lora population over time. We used this data to develop an overall Theory of Change to explain changes in the lora population by looking at the overlap in hypotheses within and between stakeholder groups. We then triangulated that Theory of Change with evidence from government reports, peer‐reviewed literature, and newspapers. Our results suggest that the observed increase in the lora population can be largely attributed to a decrease in illegal poaching of loras and an associated decrease in local demand for pet loras. The decreases in both poaching and demand have likely been driven by a combination of law enforcement, social marketing campaigns (including the Rare campaign), and environmental education in schools. General Elimination Methodology proved to be an illuminating post‐hoc evaluation method for understanding the complexity around how multiple interventions have influenced conservation outcomes over time. There is a need for evidence‐based evaluations of social marketing interventions to ensure that limited resources are spent wisely. Here we present a new approach for evaluating the influences of social marketing campaigns on both human behavior and conservation outcomes.
Abstract: Invasive rats are some of the largest contributors to seabird extinction and endangerment world- wide. We conducted a meta-analysis of studies on seabird–rat interactions to examine which seabird phyloge- netic, morphological, behavioral, and life history characteristics affect their susceptibility to invasive rats and to identify which rat species have had the largest impact on seabird mortality. We examined 94 manuscripts that demonstrated rat effects on seabirds. All studies combined resulted in 115 independent rat–seabird in- teractions on 61 islands or island chains with 75 species of seabirds in 10 families affected. Seabirds in the family Hydrobatidae and other small, burrow-nesting seabirds were most affected by invasive rats. Laridae and other large, ground-nesting seabirds were the least vulnerable to rats. Of the 3 species of invasive rats, Rattus rattus had the largest mean impact on seabirds followed by R. norvegicus and R. exulans; nevertheless, these differences were not statistically significant. Our findings should help managers and conservation prac- titioners prioritize selection of islands for rat eradication based on seabird life history traits, develop testable hypotheses for seabird response to rat eradication, provide justification for rat eradication campaigns, and identify suitable levels of response and prevention measures to rat invasion. Assessment of the effects of rats on seabirds can be improved by data derived from additional experimental studies, with emphasis on understudied seabird families such as Sulidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Spheniscidae, Fregatidae, Pelecanoididae, Phaethontidae, and Diomedeidae and evaluation of rat impacts in tropical regions.
Abstract: Introduced mammals are major drivers of extinction. Feral goats (Capra hircus) are particularly devastating to island ecosystems, causing direct and indirect impacts through overgrazing, which often results in ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Removing goat populations from islands is a powerful conservation tool to prevent extinctions and restore ecosystems. Goats have been eradicated successfully from 120 islands worldwide. With newly developed technology and techniques, island size is perhaps no longer a limiting factor in the successful removal of introduced goat populations. Furthermore, the use of global positioning systems, geographic information systems, aerial hunting by helicopter, specialized hunting dogs, and Judas goats has dramatically increased efficiency and significantly reduced the duration of eradication campaigns. Intensive monitoring programs are also critical for successful eradications. Because of the presence of humans with domestic goat populations on large islands, future island conservation actions will require eradication programs that involve local island inhabitants in a collaborative approach with biologists, sociologists, and educators. Given the clear biodiversity benefits, introduced goat populations should be routinely removed from islands.
Scuba diving on coral reefs is an increasingly lucrative element of tourism in the tropics, but divers can damage the reefs on which tourism depends. By studying the effects of diving we can determine what level of use is justifiable in balancing objectives of economic gain and conservation. Off the Caribbean island of Bonaire we compared coral and fish communities between undived reserves and environmentally similar dive sites where maximum use reached 6000 dives per site per year. At these levels of diving, direct physical damage to reefs was relatively minor. There were more loose fragments of living coral in dive sites than reserves and more abraded coral in high- than low-use areas. Diving had no significant effect on reef fish communities. Between 1991 and 1994, diving intensity increased 70% and coral cover declined in two of three dive sites and in all three reserves, suggesting a background stress unrelated to tourism. There was a significant decline in the proportion of old colonies of massive coral species within dive sites (19.2% loss), compared to a smaller loss in reserves (6.7%). Branching corals increased by 8.2% in dive sites, compared with 2.2% in reserves. Despite close management of reefs, diving is changing the character of Bonaire's reefs by allowing branching corals to increase at the expense of large, massive colonies. The impact of background stresses on massive corals seems to have been greater in the presence of diving. Other studies have linked disease infection to coral tissue damage, and the higher rates of abrasion we recorded in dived sites could have rendered corals there more susceptible to disease, thus mediating the decline of massive corals. Our study shows that even relatively low levels of diving can have pronounced effects manifested in shifts in dominance patterns rather than loss of overall coral cover. Bonaire's reefs have among the highest coral cover and greatest representation of ancient coral colonies of reefs anywhere in the Caribbean. Conserving the character of these reefs may require tighter controls on diving intensity.
The projected rise in sea level is likely to increase the vulnerability of coastal zones in the Caribbean, which are already under pressure from a combination of anthropogenic activities and natural processes. One of the major effects will be a loss of beach habitat, which provides nesting sites for endangered sea turtles. To assess the potential impacts of sea-level rise on sea turtle nesting habitat, we used beach profile measurements of turtle nesting beaches on Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, to develop elevation models of individual beaches in a geographic information system. These models were then used to quantify areas of beach vulnerable to three different scenarios of a rise in sea level. Physical characteristics of the beaches were also recorded and related to beach vulnerability, flooding, and nesting frequency. Beaches varied in physical characteristics and therefore in their vulnerability to flooding. Up to 32% of the total current beach area could be lost with a 0.5-m rise in sea level, with lower, narrower beaches being the most vulnerable. Vulnerability varied with land use adjacent to the beach. These predictions about loss of nesting habitat have important implications for turtle populations in the region.
We estimated the population sizes of the three species of columnar cacti that grow on the island of Curaçao using ground and aerial transects, and we examined the island’s carrying capacity for two species of nectar-feeding bats that depend on nectar from the flowers of these cacti. We calculated carrying capacity based on the daily availability of mature flowers between January and December 1993 and the field energy requirements of bats as estimated from an equation for eutherian mammals (low estimate) and one for passerine birds (high estimate) based on body mass. Additional energy requirements of pregnancy and lactation were taken into account. We estimated that 461,172 columnar cacti were present on Curaçao (38% Subpilocereus repandus, 51% Stenocereus griseus, and 11% Pilosocereus lanuginosus). May through September are the critical months when bats rely most heavily on cactus for food. July 1993 was a bottleneck with the smallest number of mature flowers per day. July and August were months of greatest energy demand because females were lactating. We estimate that the carrying capacity for Glossophaga longirostris in July, when the bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) population was 900, was near 1200, an estimate that fits the observed population size of nectar-feeding bats on the island. We suggest that the extensive removal of native vegetation occurring on Curaçao be strictly regulated because further destruction of the cacti will result in a decrease and potential loss of the already low populations of nectar-feeding bats.
Ingestion of marine debris can have lethal and sublethal effects on sea turtles and other wildlife. Although researchers have reported on ingestion of anthropogenic debris by marine turtles and implied inci- dences of debris ingestion have increased over time, there has not been a global synthesis of the phenomenon since 1985. Thus, we analyzed 37 studies published from 1985 to 2012 that report on data collected from before 1900 through 2011. Specifically, we investigated whether ingestion prevalence has changed over time, what types of debris are most commonly ingested, the geographic distribution of debris ingestion by marine turtles relative to global debris distribution, and which species and life-history stages are most likely to ingest debris. The probability of green (Chelonia mydas) and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) ingesting debris increased significantly over time, and plastic was the most commonly ingested debris. Turtles in nearly all regions studied ingest debris, but the probability of ingestion was not related to modeled debris densities. Furthermore, smaller, oceanic-stage turtles were more likely to ingest debris than coastal foragers, whereas carnivorous species were less likely to ingest debris than herbivores or gelatinovores. Our results indicate oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of both lethal and sublethal effects from ingested marine debris. To reduce this risk, anthropogenic debris must be managed at a global level.