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Question of the Day: Common Core: 8th Grade English Language Arts

Until recently, there were two schools of thought on establishing "flagship" endangered species chosen for campaigns to make people aware of the need for action to protect animals from extinction. These flagship species are used in marketing and advertising not only to raise awareness but also to encourage people to take action - such as fundraising, voting, and recruiting others to join in - for fauna conservation as a whole.

The first concerns how recognizable the general public, the audience of most large-scale funding campaigns, finds a particular species. This concept is commonly termed “public awareness.” This school of thought was built on the foundation that if an individual recognizes a species from prior knowledge, cultural context, or previous conservational and educational encounters (in a zoo environment or classroom setting, for instance) that individual would be more likely to note and respond to the severity of its endangered status. For instance, the panda bear, a known and beloved animal of both historical and pop-culture significance has long been used as a flagship species for many conservation groups. However, recently emerging flagship species such as the pangolin have shown us that this cannot be the only factor.

Alongside public awareness, conservation experts have long considered a factor they refer to as a “keystone species” designation in the flagstone selection process. Keystone species are those species that play an especially important role in their respective habitats or ecosystems. The otter, for example, plays a key role in balancing the kelp ecosystems in which it hunts. While this metric is important to the environmentalists in charge of distributing funds received, recent data has expressed the more minor role a keystone species designation seems to play in the motivations of the public.

Recent studies by conservationists have questioned both the singularity and the extent to which the above classifications impact the decision making of the general public. Though more complicated to measure, a third designation, known as a species’ “charisma,” is now the yardstick by which most flagship species are classified. Addressing the charisma of a species involves establishing and collecting data concerning its ecological (interactions with humans/the environments of humans), aesthetic (appealing to human emotions through physical appearance and immediately related behaviors), and corporeal (affection and socialization with humans over the short- and long-terms) characteristics. This process has been understandably criticized by some for its costs and failure to incorporate the severity of an endangered species’ status into designation, but its impact on the public has been unquestionable. While keystone and public awareness designations are still often applied in the field because of their practicality and comparative simplicity, charisma is now commonly accepted as the most accurate metric with which to judge a species’ flagship potential.

Which of the following, if used in place of the existing first sentence of paragraph four, would best maintain the structure and tone of the paragraph?

Since conservationists have begun to see how little the above designations impact the decisions of the public, they have abandoned the use of flagship species entirely.

Because the designations above are relatively easy to measure, they are the preferred process used by most conservationists.

The flaws in the above designation systems have rendered them completely unusable and obsolete, and conservationists have been forced to develop a new system.

With the limited impact of the designations described on the public, conservationists have sought out a third means of identifying flagship species.

The third designation, charisma, has also been used by conservationists for as long as those conservationists have worked to protect endangered species.

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