"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Nature and animal emojis don’t accurately represent natural biodiversity.

Current emoji libraries don't accurately represent the “tree of life” and biodiversity seen in nature, in line with an evaluation published Dec. 11 within the journal. A team of conservation biologists classified emojis related to nature and animals and mapped them onto the phylogenetic tree of life. They found that animals are well represented in the present emoji catalog, while plants, fungi and microorganisms usually are not well represented. Within the animal kingdom, vertebrates were overrepresented while arthropods were underrepresented relative to their original biodiversity. The researchers argue that making a more diverse and representative emoji catalog can assist inform conversations about biodiversity and its conservation within the digital age.

“While the biodiversity crisis may seem far away from the online world, in our increasingly digitalized society, we should not underestimate the potential of emojis to raise awareness and promote the diversity of life on Earth,” Conservation Biologists Stefano Mammola, Mattia Falaschi write. , and Gentile Francisco Factola. “The development and maintenance of diverse and inclusive emoji sets is critical to ensure fair representation of the tree of life in digital communication tools and to effectively convey messages on the importance of all organisms to the function of biology.”

To assess the taxonomic comprehensiveness of the Emoji Tree of Life, the team ranked all nature and animal-related emojis available in Emojipedia (a curated online catalog of emojis) after which compared the biodiversity of emojis to real-world biomes. Compared to diversity. They also examined how emoji biodiversity has modified between 2015 and 2022 to find out whether the emoji catalog could higher represent biodiversity as more emojis are added. preparing

In total, the team identified emojis representing 112 different organisms — 92 animals, 16 plants, 1 fungus (potentially), and 1 microorganism (potentially). The researchers write, “Such a robust classification The bias is consistent with current social awareness of biodiversity, which prioritizes animals over other taxa.”

Next, the researchers examined the biodiversity characteristics of animal emojis in additional detail. In some cases, they were capable of discover individual animal species (e.g., bald eagle and giant panda emojis), while other emojis were only identifiable to the genus or family level (e.g., emojis which represent ants or crocodiles).

Overall, 76% of the animal emojis represented vertebrates, 16% represented arthropods, and 4%, 2%, and 1% represented molluscs, cnidarians, and annelids, respectively. Given that there are 1,302,809 described species of arthropods and only 85,423 described species of vertebrates, because of this the present emoji catalog underrepresents arthropod biodiversity and overrepresents vertebrates.

The researchers also noted that despite there being greater than 20,000 platyhelminth species and nearly 20,000 nematode species, there have been no emojis that represented platyhelminths (ie, flatworms, including tapeworms) or nematodes. These biases in emoji representations of animal biodiversity reflect known biases in biodiversity assessments and conservation analyses, including the IUCN Red List, the researchers write. Underrepresented genres might also be lacking as a result of the standards for evaluating potential emoji subjects — for something to be an emoji, it normally must be Googled with a certain frequency, and really Unrepresented organisms don't meet this criteria.

“This principle may be problematic, as it risks hindering the expansion of emojis to better cover the true biodiversity of our planet,” the researchers write.

However, emoji biodiversity appears to be increasing. In 2015, there have been only 45 animal tax emojis, but this can increase to 78 in 2019 and 92 in 2022. Along with increasing in number, animal emojis also became more representative of biodiversity during this era. In 2015, there have been only emojis representing vertebrates, arthropods, and molluscs, but annelids gained representation in 2020 with the addition of the “worm” emoji, presumably representing a worm, and cnidarians in red in 2021. gained representation with the addition of Coral Emoji

“This increase in phylogenetic diversity is driven by unknown taxa, emphasizing a positive trend of better opportunities to emoticize biodiversity communication, allowing users of digital platforms to express a range of biodiversity-related topics and emotions. can communicate more effectively, beyond icons depicting icon species,” the researchers write.

Although the researchers say that access to biodiversity emojis is critical to online conversations about biodiversity and conservation, more research is required to evaluate how nature-related in these contexts are used. How to make use of emojis “Exploring the use of nature-related emojis in the context of biodiversity communication and conservation could be a topic for further research,” the researchers write.