Drivers of Bird Conservation

Understanding human population growth and resource consumption and their effects on birds

The transformation of natural habitats represents one of the great forces in global environmental change and one of the great drivers of biodiversity loss. From coastal wetlands to montane forests, habitats and entire ecosystems are eliminated, degraded and fragmented in myriad ways. Human attempts to use and subdue natural habitats have been a constant theme in the earth’s transformation in many societies and many lands.

 The growth of human populations and the ever-increasing demand for scarce resources to support economic expansion and higher standards of living are the dual drivers of this loss of habitats and biodiversity.  The research and conservation agenda of the National Aviary is focused on determining how these threats impact birds. By studying the ecology and population dynamics of birds across a range of human population densities, we can better understand how human-caused threats impact bird populations. For example, we have investigated how the diversity of songbirds changes as human population increases in urban areas, how the Louisiana Waterthrush is affected by pollution impacting streams in Pennsylvania, and how increasing numbers of rural residents can impact Neotropical parrot populations.  With this knowledge, we can then make recommendations and establish management guidelines to mitigate negative consequences of human activities.

Stabilizing both the number of the world’s people and the amount of resources they consume are the twin pillars required for effective conservation. Science at the National Aviary helps to develop a complete picture of factors responsible for the loss of biodiversity. Understanding these factors is necessary to develop practical solutions so that future generations can prosper and lead happy and healthy lives.