Extinction Knowledge and Prioritization among Environmental Issues

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Extinction poses a major threat to global biodiversity. Although reducing extinction is a global environmental sustainability goal noted in United Nations’ planning initiatives, rural habitat development poses the single greatest threat to non-human species’ survival. In Australia, habitat loss is the most common cause of extinction. Australia globally leads in extinction rates and lags in achieving global sustainability goals. While scientific research calls for social change to address environmental problems, an absence of sociological extinction research contributes to systemic challenges. This article commences identifying and addressing knowledge gaps. Surveying members of a rural-regional Australian university found that most knew habitat loss causes extinction. Qualitatively, analysis reveals respondents’ environmental sustainability priorities and the prevalence and type of biodiversity issues. Quantitatively, increased age and formal education are associated with habitat loss knowledge and housing-location decisions. Although knowing habitat loss causes extinction was associated with prioritizing biodiversity issues, greatest concern emerged for pro-environmental issues affecting humans’, not other animals’, sustainability. As housing and industry refashion rural landscapes, findings illustrate policy and legislative imperatives for habitat conservation to alter nonhuman species’ extinction progression, especially where anthropocentric environmental focus is socially normative.