Animal examples and biodiversity loss

The Cukoo.
The Cukoo. Photo: Ron Knight, CC license.

In her recently published article, "Making Invisible Changes Visible: Animal Examples and the Communication of Biodiversity Loss", Marit Ruge Bjærke explores how animal examples are used in the construction of biodiversity loss as an environmental problem. Cuckoos, ptarmigans and mountain hares are all on the Norwegian Red List for Species, but when used as examples in media texts, they convey different conceptions of nature and biodiversity. Through their way of both exceeding and reducing the general statement they are meant to illustrate, examples bring certain ideas about biodiversity loss to the foreground: The cuckoo evoked conceptions of nature as a place of magic and biodiversity as a requisite for happiness, while ptarmigans linked biodiversity loss with future climate change, as well as with hunting traditions. The animal examples thus provide important insight into how biodiversity loss is constructed and communicated.