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dc.contributor.advisorBishop, Philip
dc.contributor.advisorRock, Jennifer
dc.contributor.advisorMoacir, Tinoco
dc.contributor.authorDos Santos, Marcileida Maria
dc.identifier.citationDos Santos, M. M. (2018). The Role of Education in Amphibian Conservation (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractWe are living in the ‘Anthropocene Era’ with irreversible biodiversity loss and support system of planet Earth is compromised. Although extinctions are natural events, it is the current rate of species extinction that is particularly alarming. Scientific efforts to reduce biodiversity loss and species extinctions might not be swift enough considering the current rate of global species population declines. Although, scientific research has progressed immensely in the last decades, there are concerns that research is not meeting conservation needs, and more efforts on improving conservation tools are necessary. In this thesis, I assess multiple aspects of the conservation efforts towards minimising species declines and extinction, using amphibians as a model, with a view to improving species conservation tools to further minimise the rate of biodiversity loss. I have started by conducting a bibliometric review of the quantity and qualities of amphibian-related scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals because there is often a missing link between scientific research and public awareness of efforts to reduce amphibian declines. Ten mainstream peer-reviewed journals were chosen, five on conservation and five on herpetology, to identify trends and patterns in global amphibian research. Results from the bibliometric study highlights a lack of publications about actions that can reduce the threats posed to amphibians and a need for publications in peer-reviewed journals to place greater emphasis on explicit Amphibian Conservation Action Plan priority actions, such as habitat protection, habitat creation and restoration. Unfortunately, resources for conservation will continue to be limited, and Environmental Education (EE) may be an idealistic conservation action for enabling people to care about amphibians. I have conducted a literature review on EE used as a tool to promote environmental awareness. At the formal level, environmental education has developed slowly. I reviewed the influence of governments, non-governmental organisations, and scholars for the development and implementation of EE around the globe. The literature review showed how the focus of EE has changed over time, transitioning with socio-economic changes. Environmental education was often viewed as a tool to teach others how the natural environment functions. Today, EE is viewed as one of the most important tools used in conservation, aiming to promote a society that is knowledgeable about their anthropogenic impacts on the environment and to motivate individuals to find solutions to these problems. I have created a model to show how EE, teaching and learning can be effectively measured, standardised and consolidated globally, promoting knowledge of the complexity of our environment and empowering people to act to further reduce biodiversity loss. Mass media interventions such as species-focussed campaigns, have been important conservation tools; not only do they generate financial support but they also raise awareness, which is particularly important for species conservation. I evaluate the international ‘Year of The Frog’ campaign, an amphibian conservation intervention launched in 2008, with the purpose of improving amphibian conservation in zoos, as a case study in EE. The campaign has inspired and encouraged some zoos to embrace amphibian conservation, but the next step requires increasing collaboration with more zoos in countries that have a high amphibian biodiversity and assisting zoos in developing captive colonies that can provide suitable individuals for reintroductions into natural habitat. In recent times, zoos have been increasingly involved in conservation education. Modern zoos have an important role in formal, non-formal (lifelong learning) and informal (outside the school curriculum) education. However, very little is known of the real effect zoos have in promoting species conservation to the public. I evaluated zoo visitors’ knowledge about amphibians and the amphibian extinction crisis by surveying visitors to zoos in three countries on three different continents: Brazil (South America), the UK (Europe) and New Zealand (Oceania). The study compared zoos with and without amphibian exhibits. Visitors to institutions that had amphibian exhibits were expected to have a greater proportion of correct answers, as more amphibian-focussed conservation education was expected to occur. Surprisingly, this did not seem to be the case, though correct responses to general conservation questions were marginally higher at zoos with amphibian exhibits compared to those without. An evaluation of the amphibian content in the outreach programmes was also carried out and showed that, particularly in developed countries, amphibians are rarely used in the outreach programmes of zoos surveyed. My findings demonstrate that conservation messages about global amphibian declines are largely failing to reach the public through zoos. Environmental education is an ideal conservation tool to raise awareness and engage citizens to minimise the anthropogenic impact on biodiversity loss. In applied investigations into using EE to build awareness about amphibians, I developed and implemented two different programmes to teach students about amphibians in three different schools in New Zealand. I carried out an evaluation of the improvement of students’ knowledge in the short and long term, as well as evaluating specific areas of their knowledge. The level of improvement depended mainly on the question topic, for example, biology, conservation, geography or conceptual ideas about amphibians. Both programmes improved students’ knowledge about amphibians across all schools and social-economic status, although this varied between schools. Across the three schools and treatments, there was a poor initial understanding of particular topics such as the biogeography questions related to the native species of frogs. This finding suggests that students learn better and retain better the knowledge about species conservation with support of interventions, such as e-Learning and mixed out-of-class. Additionally, messages about the importance of the native species of amphibians of New Zealand is not clearly understood amongst school children. This finding suggests that conservation of endangered classes, such as amphibians should be emphasised throughout the school years for all science curricula explicitly, including the importance and benefits of amphibians for our ecosystem and for humans both directly and indirectly. By learning the importance of amphibians at an early age and reinforcing the knowledge, can promote biophilia towards amphibians and add value for the conservation and preservation of the species. Understanding amphibian species biology needs and how organisms interact with the environment is an essential part of developing successful management programmes, and schools can contribute greatly to building the skills for decision-makers of the future. Education is a key component for nurturing successful conservationists of the future, as schoolchildren are more responsive to information and are more likely to sympathise with the target species/or programme. There is no doubt that the challenges ahead to prevent further amphibian declines are overwhelming. My findings suggest that amphibian focussed conservation tools need further development in order to be used effectively. There are several focus points that need to be addressed, for example, it is critical for the development of future amphibian conservation strategies to work with communities, enabling a multidisciplinary approach, at global, regional and local levels. I make further recommendations for the improvement of conservation tools to prevent further global amphibian population declines. The models suggested in my recommendations fall into three categories; effectively using the conservation tools available, increasing collaboration, and, improving species focused environmental education. This thesis highlights some clear directions to improve the conservation of amphibians globally and prevent further species and population-level declines.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectConservation tools
dc.titleThe Role of Education in Amphibian Conservation
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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