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Elementary School Kids Think Like Conservation Biologists Without Even Trying

An endangered species is an animal that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation and Nature as likely to become extinct. If you didn’t know that already, you might want to ask your youngster because new research says they’re basically environmental experts — at least when it comes to wild animals, which makes sense. After all, they have a lot in common.

The survey asked 400 elementary school students, ages 8 to 10, across 16 North Carolina elementary schools to rank the importance of 5 wildlife attributes: species with declining numbers, species that are important in nature, wild animals that live nowhere else but North Carolina (aka endemic species), wild animals that people like to watch, and wild animals that people like to eat (aka number one for dads!). When kids were then asked to divide a limited amount of conservation funds among these categories, children prioritized species with rapid population declines, followed by species that had important ecological roles — the same priorities as conservation biologists. And you thought the only thing they had in common with biologists was their love of germs.

Flickr / Schristia

Flickr / Schristia

The study also found that just because your kid thinks this way, doesn’t mean you do. Instead, adults tend to put endemic species specific to their area above all other wildlife categories. So maybe your kid is simply a better conservation biologist than you are, in which case you have yet another reason to tell them to get a job.

[H/T] Eureka Alert