The Survival of Wild Species
Chapter 13: The similarity principle and public support for the survival of wildlife species
This chapter and the next are closely related because both explore in a different way the relevance of the similarity principle; the principle that humans favour the survival of species that show greater similarity to themselves (see, for example, Plous, 1993; Eddy et al., 1993; Gunnthorsdottir, 2001). In general, it is believed that this results in humans preferring species of mammals to birds for conservation and survival, and in turn the continuing existence of species of birds rather than reptiles is favoured. Species belonging to lower orders (classes) are even less favoured for survival by humans. In this chapter, empirical data are used to test Gunnthorsdottir’s thesis (Gunnthorsdottir, 2001) that more likeable wildlife species are preferred for survival and that, on the whole, these are more frequently mammals than birds and more often birds than reptiles. The main emphasis in this chapter is on the association between the stated likeability of species and the support of individuals for their survival, whereas in the next chapter the focus is on the comparative probability of species of mammals, birds and reptiles being selected for survival when the number of species to be chosen for survival is limited. The latter involves an ‘Ark-type’ situation in which the capacity of the ‘Ark’ to accommodate the number of available species is limited.
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