Combining culturomic sources to uncover trends in popularity and seasonal interest in plants

Reut Vardi, John C. Mittermeier, Uri Roll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Culturomic tools enable the exploration of trends in human–nature interactions, although they entail inherent biases and necessitate careful validation. Furthermore, people may engage with nature across different culturomic data sets differently. We evaluated people's digital interest and engagement with plant species based on Wikipedia and Google data and explored the conservation implications of these temporal interest patterns. As a case study, we explored the digital footprints of the most popular plant species in Israel. We analyzed 4 years of daily page views from Hebrew Wikipedia and 10 years of daily Google search volume in Israel. We modeled popularity of plant species in these 2 data sets based on a suite of plant attributes. We further explored the seasonal trends of people's interest in each species. We found differences in how people interacted digitally with plants in Wikipedia and Google. Overall, in Google, searches for species that have utility to humans were more common, whereas in Wikipedia, plants that serve as cultural emblems received more attention. Furthermore, in Google, popular species attracted more attention over time, opposite to the trend in Wikipedia. In Google, interest in species with short bloom duration exhibited more pronounced seasonal patterns, whereas in Wikipedia, seasonality of interest increased as bloom duration increased. Together, our results suggest that people's digital interactions with nature may be inherently different depending on the sources explored, which may affect use of this information for conservation. Although culturomics holds much promise, better understanding of its underpinnings is important when translating insights into conservation actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-471
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Google-Trends
  • Wikipedia
  • ambassador species
  • blooming
  • flagship species
  • flowers
  • human–nature interactions
  • seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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