Eyster et al., Motivating conservation using genetic uniqueness and relational values

Eyster, H.N., P. Olmsted, R. Naidoo and K.M.A. Chan (2022). “Motivating conservation even for widespread species using genetic uniqueness and relational values.” Biological Conservation 266: 109438. Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109438

Widespread, common species continue to decline, disrupting ecosystems and human connections with nature. New strategies to motivate people to protect widespread species are needed. Drawing on a relational values framework, we deploy a discrete choice experiment survey (n = 646) to test whether foregrounding the genetic distinctiveness of local populations and interdependence with humans could motivate conservation of a widespread species (rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss). Genetic/genomic data have long been used to manage endangered species, but have heretofore not been used to motivate public support for conservation of widespread species. Fitting our survey data to a mixed multinomial logit model, we find that when we emphasize participants’ interdependent relationships with fish, participants are willing to pay significantly more to support conservation projects that protect genetically distinct populations. These findings suggest a new avenue for using an abundant resource (genetic data) to motivate conservation of widespread species.