Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Conservation Biology ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Conservation Biology
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: lewdego-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 Jul 2004 12:53 PDT
Expires: 29 Aug 2004 12:53 PDT
Question ID: 381429
who first used the phrase "charismatic megavertebrate" or "charismatic
megafauna"? When?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 17 Aug 2004 11:11 PDT
The earliest published reference I can find is from 1985.

However, I certainly wouldn't count this as a definitive "first use"
as the article implies that the term generally arose the prior year,
in 1984.

Would you like me to post the reference and the relevant excerpt as an
answer to your question?


Clarification of Question by lewdego-ga on 17 Aug 2004 17:30 PDT
thanks - please post the refernce, including the author and date, and
the excerpt - i'll consider your answer complete and continue my
search from there. thanks again
Subject: Re: Conservation Biology
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 17 Aug 2004 18:02 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Thanks for getting back to me on this.

The earliest reference for "charismatic megavertebrates" that I found
was from an April 22, 1985 issue of Newsweek magazine:


April 22, 1985
Saving 'Charismatic' Animals

The latest tactic acknowledges that public support cannot be mobilized
to save the snake mite -- or thousands of other homely beasts.
Instead, within the past year many wildlife conservationists have
forged a policy of preserving and promoting "charismatic
megavertebrates," the pandas, tigers, okapis and other glamorous
rarities that rivet public sentiment. If this is a rude repudiation of
the conservation purist's all-or-nothing creed, it's also a deftly
plotted political practicality. "There is a sense of mission now, and
of encouragement," says eminent Harvard zoologist E. O. Wilson. "Our
most easily appreciated species can call attention to the plight of
our entire ecosystem."


A similar excerpt can be seen from a 1988 NY Times article on the
Endangered Species Act:

The New York Times

November 27, 1988
15-Year Scorecard; The Law Saves A Few Species From Oblivion

M. Rupert Cutler, president of Defenders of Wildlife...While the
species that Dr. Cutler called ''charismatic megafauna,'' such as
whales and grizzly bears, get most of the public attention, he said
the law is supposed to provide equal protection for ''enigmatic
microfauna and flora,'' including insects, plants, fish and mollusks.
What is needed, he said, are programs that protect the habitats of
whole communities of living creatures.


By the way, I *almost* found you a 1979 reference as well:

The Washington Post

April 2, 1979
'Scarlet Letter': TV Takes on 'A' Moral

If Hauser's intent was somehow to translate Howthorne's writing style
into appropriate visual term, the aim has been realized at the cost of
dramatic and emotional credibility. As Hester Prynne, the indisputably
charismatic Meg Foster spends so much of the first two hours glaring
wide-eyed into air that she suggests a near-sighted knockout adjusting
her peeners to newly fitted contact lenses.


Of course, that still leaves us with the question of what, exactly,
"peeners" are...

Hope this is the information you needed.  

Before rating this answer, please let me know if anything here needs
additional clarification.



search strategy:  searched a variety of full text newspaper and
magazine databases to identify early uses of the phrases in question.
lewdego-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars
My question is still unanswered, but the clarification opened up new
avenues of search and gave me useful reference points.

Subject: Re: Conservation Biology
From: pinkfreud-ga on 12 Aug 2004 15:32 PDT
Another possible originator is mentioned here:

"[Shannon] Petersen refers to such species as 'charismatic megafauna,'
noting that the term was coined by Dennis Murphy, the Director of the
Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, to refer to
large, emblematic species such as the bald eagle, gray wolf, bison,
and grizzly bear, which represent the great natural beauty of North

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy