Local insects as flagship species to promote nature conservation? A survey among primary school children on their attitudes toward invertebrates

; ; (). Local insects as flagship species to promote nature conservation? A survey among primary school children on their attitudes toward invertebrates. Anthrozoös, 28(2), 229-245. Peer reviewed.

Local insects as flagship species to promote nature conservation? A survey among primary school children on their attitudes toward invertebrates

Flagship species play an important role in promoting nature conservation. However, although the significance of invertebrates in biodiversity and ecosystem services is undisputed, they are rarely used as flagship species. A focused approach to better understand the drivers of differences in attitudes towards invertebrates, and insects in particular, would be helpful for selecting and establishing insects as flagship species, especially in a local context for local conservation purposes. Using a standard questionnaire, a total of 363 children, predominantly aged ten to twelve, were asked about their attitudes towards 18 invertebrate species indigenous to Switzerland. The species, 14 insect species and 4 other invertebrates, were individually presented in a color photograph without any background information. Based on ordinal regression models, the survey revealed substantial affinity rating differences across the invertebrates selected. Gender, species knowledge, preferred leisure activities and family membership of a nature protection organization proved to be significant predictors for children’s attitudes in general, and for some specific species in particular. Additionally, existing species knowledge was analyzed and was found to neither depend on school location (urban/rural) nor on gender. The authors propose the inclusion of local invertebrates and species knowledge in the curriculum in early years at primary school while applying teaching methods that allow for real life experience.