Is #hashtagging your environment enough to save it?

Location-based data might help pinpoint key ecosystems — or make conservation a popularity contest

Appeared in Smithsonian Magazine

Melissa Groo, the photographer behind the stunning giraffe photograph that graces Smithsonian Magazine’s March cover, knows better than most how to draw people’s attention to the wild and the majestic.

To expand her reach, Groo often posts her far-flung photos to her popular Instagram. Her images from the field bring people up close and personal with creatures they might never otherwise see, from the albino-like spirit bears of the temperature rainforest that spills over the coast of British Columbia, to the brilliant flamingos that color the southernmost island of the Bahamas.

Like many Instagram users, Groo uses geotags—location-based tags on a photo that reveal where it’s shot—to get people even more excited about conservation hotspots. But sometimes, she and other wildlife and conservation photographers worry that geotagging can have unintended effects… (continue)