Biodiversity loss is a major environmental issue worldwide and Australian threatened species are in particular need of conservation research and management. Successful threatened species conservation often depends on public support in the form of individual behaviour change, provision of funds to research or conservation groups, or advocacy. In order to secure public support, message design is increasingly being used by organisations to encourage pro-conservation attitudes and behaviours, including framing, strategic and persuasive communications techniques. Yet research into appropriate strategies is lacking for threatened species conservation.
My PhD research explores strategic communications as an avenue for increasing public engagement with threatened species conservation, with focussed work on:
- Identifying barriers preventing public engagement with threatened species conservation in Australia
- Whether common names influence willingness to conserve species
- How we can think more strategically about communications planning for biodiversity
- Whether the use of passive language and nominalisations (e.g. habitat loss) reduces agency and perceptions of risk and importance around biodiversity loss
This interdisciplinary conservation science project is focussed within strategic communications; however, I will also be drawing from other disciplines, such as social marketing and psychology. I will also be working with conservation organisations to ensure my work will be directly relevant and useful to them, and to the threatened species they are working to protect.