Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Environmental Conservation


Cambridge University Press

Publication Date



Human perception of biological variation is an important and understudied issue in the conservation and management of natural resources. Here, we took a novel approach by asking 1152 participants, primarily college biology students, to score examples of insect mimicry by the number of distinct kinds of animals they saw. Latent class analysis successfully separated participants based on their accuracy of perception as well as demographic information and opinions about biodiversity. Contrary to expectations, factors such as childhood experience (growing up in urban, suburban or rural areas) did not affect the ability to see biodiversity as much as political views (location on a spectrum from liberal to conservative) or the position that biodiversity is important for the health of the environment. We conclude that research into effective measures of biological education should consider the connection between personal views and perceptions of natural variation.

Additional Files

perceptionsSupp_June13_Final.docx (1402 kB)

Fig_1_Final.tif (900 kB)

Fig_S2a.pdf (441 kB)

Fig_S2b.pdf (375 kB)

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Biology Commons