Chapter 14: The comparative probability of species of mammals, birds and reptiles being selected for survival when only a limited number of species can be chosen
Prioritizing efforts to preserve biodiversity is a critical aspect of conservation biology. Resources available to protect wildlife species from extinction are often limited, and choices have to be made about which species to conserve (Tisdell, 1990). Public preference for selecting species, therefore, becomes an important consideration in preservation decisions. As pointed out in the previous chapter, it is claimed that humans prefer animals that are similar to themselves (the similarity principle) and that these are considered to be physically more attractive and likeable than others (Kellert, 1980; Plous, 1993; Gunnthorsdottir, 2001). Some survey-based studies (see, for example, the results reported in Chapters 11 and 12 of this book) have shown that while people are willing to pay more to conserve animals that are threatened or have important ecological roles, preservation bids are nevertheless high for species that are similar to humans or are attractive to them, for example, mammals being preferred to birds, and birds to reptiles (Samples et al., 1986; DeKay and McClelland, 1996; Tkac, 1998; Gunnthorsdottir, 2001). As pointed out in the previous chapter, this implies that, on the whole, species of mammals are preferred to birds and birds are liked more than reptiles.
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