Carlos A. Fonseca, Xana Sá-Pinto (CIDTFF), Herculano A. Dinis, & Raquel Vasconcelos | Science of The Total Environment

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The interaction between the Anthroposphere and the Biosphere has resulted in increasingly rapid biodiversity loss. This negative interaction is influenced by attitudes (feelings, actions), and perceptions) of humans towards certain species. Despite the importance of reptiles in food chains and ecosystem services, they are often negatively perceived, resulting in fear and persecution. In this scenario, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) may contribute for students to develop positive attitudes towards nature and, in particular, towards reptile conservation. Some studies showed that watching wildlife movies improves attitudes of people towards wildlife. However, few information is available on the impact of engaging people in movie production in their attitudes and perceptions on biodiversity. Here we present an exploratory case study and describe a project-based learning activity (PBL) implemented with Cabo Verdean high-school students and planned to improve their perceptions, feelings and actions towards reptiles in general, and the threatened endemic species C. vaillanti in particular. We asked students to write a script, shoot and produce a short film that could improve the attitudes of their community towards this endemic species. This movie was then presented to the community in a public event and subjected to a content analysis. To evaluate the impact of the activity on students, they were asked to fill in two questionnaires, before and after the activity. Our results showed significant increase of positive feelings of students about the reptiles, and increased perception of their importance, and of positive actions towards C. vaillanti from pre to post test. The movie content analyses and interviews showed that students learned about species biology, threats and reasons for its conservation, of which endemicity was the most frequently cited. Our findings support the value of engaging the public in PBL for EDS and the positive impacts of this engagement in public attitudes towards species conservation.

Keywords: Endemic species conservation; High-school students; Project-based learning; Public engagement; Reptiles; Science communication

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Fonseca, C. A., Sá-Pinto, X., Dinis, H. A., & Vasconcelos, R. (2021). Shooting skinks for good: Producing a movie improves attitudes towards a threatened species. Science of The Total Environment.