This Research in Action article was provided to Live Science in partnership with the National Science Foundation.
The clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), shown here sheltering in a magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica), became one of the most recognizable and charismatic marine species after starring in the movie “Finding Nemo” (Walt Disney Pictures, 2003). Charisma can help the cause of conservation, as well-known species tend to garner greater conservation awareness, funding and legal protection.
However, a study published in the January 2012 issue of Conservation Letters shows that even for charismatic species, taxonomic biases can affect conservation knowledge and legal protection. Among species featured in Finding Nemo,16 percent are at risk of extinction. People show significantly less conservation knowledge of small species like the anemonefish. Likewise, species with high economic value, like sharks, have deficiencies in legal protection relative to their conservation need.
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