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dc.contributor.advisorLongnecker, Nancy
dc.contributor.authorRykers, Ellen Mae
dc.identifier.citationRykers, E. M. (2018). Communicating conservation with detection dogs (Thesis, Master of Science Communication). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractPublic support and awareness is essential to effectively address conservation issues such as biodiversity decline in New Zealand. There is a need to develop approaches for enhancing public awareness and attracting new audiences to conservation. Conservation dogs – detection dogs trained to sniff out either endangered species (e.g. kiwi) or pest species (e.g. rats) – present a novel tool for conservation communication. As charismatic, familiar animals, it was predicted that these dogs might act as a ‘hook’ to attract and engage the New Zealand public with conservation issues. Using a case study of whio/blue ducks and a whio detection dog, an online questionnaire compared the impact of a conservation dog frame (versus whio frame) on participants’ response, attitudes and willingness to donate to environmental causes. The conservation dog frame elicited a positive and hopeful emotional response while the whio frame evoked sadness. The conservation dog frame also impacted participants’ attitudes, rendering them more likely to say they like dogs, more likely to think the status of New Zealand’s native species is poor, but also less likely to state that New Zealand’s biodiversity decline is a serious issue. This result highlights the fine balance that must be struck between empowerment and conveying the plight of native species. Participants’ perceptions of conservation dogs were also investigated in the survey. Results indicate that the public supports the use of detection dogs for conservation purposes, however their role as mascots for conservation does not appeal to everyone. Messages must be carefully tailored to audience characteristics including personality, values, prior knowledge and identity. Perceptions of conservation dogs on social media were also examined. Although social media was a frequently mentioned way of finding out about conservation dogs, respondents’ intention to follow individual dogs on social media was mixed. This has implications for mode choices and communication strategies utilising conservation dogs. A creative component consisted of four standalone pieces on conservation dogs, including two published in New Zealand Geographic. These represent the creative manifestation of the idea that conservation dogs are engaging ambassadors for conservation.
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 communication
dc.subjectconservation dogs
dc.subjectscience communication
dc.subjectNew Zealand conservation
dc.subjectconservation marketing
dc.subjectconservation engagement
dc.titleCommunicating conservation with detection dogs
dc.language.rfc3066en for Science Communication of Science Communication of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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