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An international team of researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Birmingham and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have found that the way in which people use the internet is closely tied to patterns and rhythms in the natural world. This finding, publishing March 5 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology suggests new ways to monitor changes in the world's biodiversity. It also reveals new ways to see how much people care about nature, and which species and areas might be the most effective targets for conservation.
The team used Wikipedia pageview records to investigate whether people's online interest in plants and animals follows seasonal patterns. They assembled a massive dataset of 2.33 billion pageviews spanning nearly three years for 31,715 species across 245 Wikipedia language editions. The researchers found that seasonal trends are widespread in Wikipedia interest for many species of plants and animals, and more than a quarter of the species in their dataset showed seasonality in their pageviews.
Species - Researchers - Amount - Timing - Internet
For these seasonal species, the researchers found that the amount and timing of internet activity is an accurate measure of when and how the species is present in the world outside the window. The team thinks it might be possible to measure changes in the presence and abundance of species simply by seeing how much internet activity there is about them.
By taking a deep dive into these seasonal patterns, the researchers found several interesting trends. Often, seasonal interest in Wikipedia pages reflects seasonal patterns in the species themselves. For example, pages for flowering plants tended to have stronger seasonal trends than those for coniferous trees, which don't have an obvious flowering season. Likewise, pages for insects and birds tended to be more seasonal than those for many mammals.
Language - Editions - Wikipedia - Patterns - Wikipedia
Different language editions of Wikipedia show different seasonal patterns too: Wikipedia in...
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