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Interest in insect die-off and intention for action using Google trends

Citation

Felgentreff, Esther; Buchholz, Sascha; Straka, Tanja (2022), Interest in insect die-off and intention for action using Google trends, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pzgmsbcqh

Abstract

1. The publication of “More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas” by Hallmann et al. in October 2017 gained vast media coverage in Germany. The insect crisis as conservation topic has received little attention among the public before, but since media influences people’s awareness, we investigated i) whether the study publication induced increased awareness among the German public for insect die-off, and ii) whether it contributed to people’s intentions to undertake insect protecting actions.

2. We used Google Trends to examine the people’s internet activity in terms of keywords relevant to our research question.

3. A high peak in Google searches for insect die-off (Insektensterben) was indeed visible just after the study publication, and search volume remained significantly higher for the following six months, confirming that the topic gained attention.

4. Searches for the three keywords insect hotel, bee friendly and bee meadow increased significantly over the summers of the years 2017 to 2019. This suggests that intentions to undertake these simple insect protecting actions rose as well. The results propose that media should use the window of opportunity opened by shocking news about a crisis to spread information on feasible counteractions.

5. Due to the prevailing topicality in the media and the already increased awareness and willingness to action among the population, conservation organizations can take advantage of the situation by communicating practical conservation measures to the general public in cooperation with media agencies or via own channels such as press releases and social media campaigns.


Methods

The data was downloaded from Google Trends. It was searched for the index of search activity for the four German keywords "Insektensterben" ("insect die-off"), "Insektenhotel" ("insect hotel"), "bienenfreundlich" ("bee friendly") and "Bienenweide" ("bee meadow"). For all four keywords, query data was used rather than query collections, which is an additional feature of Google trends that includes related searches. The geographical range was restricted to Germany, and data was downloaded for the time span between January 3, 2016, and December 22, 2019.

It was then analyzed with R, where the data sets were divided into different sections and compared with each other.