News Round-Up

Culturally significant birds live in habitats most at risk to environmental change


From Mother Goose nursery rhymes to the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” our love for birds is woven throughout world cultures. As deforestation and climate change threaten the habitats of birds, scientists are beginning to take stock of the cultural values that are also at risk.

A new Conservation Letters study co-led by Stanford Natural Capital Project postdoctoral researcher Alejandra Echeverri combines approaches from biology and psychology to link people’s cultural connections to birds with environmental change for the first time. The researchers focused their study in Costa Rica, a premier destination for the multibillion-dollar birdwatching industry. They sought to understand which birds Costa Ricans love the most – and which birds people can’t stand – and explored the potential cultural impact of losing those birds. Here, Echeverri discusses the many cultural benefits that birds provide to people and the ways in which the most vulnerable species are also those most deeply embedded in our cultures. MORE

Header image: Daniel Karp/UC Davis.