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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Brasher, Jeffrey W. [1], Snow, Neil [2].

Species Identification Survey: Factors correlated with recognition of plants and mammals.

A consensus has emerged among certain authors that the ability of Americans to recognize local plants and animals is low and declining. A low recognition ability (RA) may have strong implications for environmental education and public support for conservation. We quantified different categories of RA for plants and mammals, which included comparisons between groups of organisms, and tested hypotheses of correlation between RA and other variables. Variables included learning experiences, urban versus rural residence, years of residence in the region, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Participants in a pilot survey viewed 30 PowerPoint slides of common, distinctive Colorado plant genera and wrote out names, if known. In a modified study participants viewed 24 semi-randomly ordered slides of putatively well-known plants and animals. Six species were displayed in each of 4 groups: plants of Colorado, plants of the world, mammals of Colorado, and mammals of the world. Participants selected common names from five-answer multiple-choice questions. Participants answered demographic and experience-related questions for both surveys.
The pilot study demonstrated very low levels of Colorado plant recognition. In the modified study mammal recognition surpassed plant recognition, and the multiple choice format resulted in an increase in correct answers. Variables significantly correlated with higher RA included learning experiences, years lived in the region, and rural residence. Factor analysis loaded learning experiences questions into two components.
Potential implications of the results are discussed. Low RA of local biodiversity could impact educational curricula, science education, and support for conservation.

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1 - University of Wyoming, Plant Sciences, Dept. 3354, Laramie, WY, 82071, USA
2 - University of Northern Colorado, Department of Biological Sciences, 501 20Th St, Greeley, Colorado, 80639, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: CP06
Location: Boulevard A/Hilton
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2007
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: CP06004
Abstract ID:1827

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