The following two-part paper by Ernest Small*, explores and argues these points:
The new Noah's Ark: beautiful and useful species only. Part 1. Biodiversity conservation issues and priorities:
Most of the world's species at risk of extinction are neither particularly attractive nor obviously useful, and consequently lack conservation support. In contrast, the public, politicians, scientists, the media and conservation organisations are extremely sympathetic to a select number of well-known and admired species, variously called flagship, charismatic, iconic, emblematic, marquee and poster species.
View full abstract and paper**: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14888386.2011.642663
For most species, conservation efforts are being determined by qualities that humans admire or dislike, including economic importance. The most universally admired physical characteristic is size: huge creatures elicit great respect, whereas the majority of species, which are small, tend to be ignored. Glamorous appearance is critical for sympathetic attention, and there are numerous features such as colour and impressive architecture that contribute to what makes a species attractive.
Contacts and sources:
Taylor & Francis