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Priorities in global bird conservation ‘misplaced’

Bird conservation is misplacing its priorities by focusing on non-threatened bird species in developed countries, rather than threatened species from tropical nations, report researchers writing in Tropical Conservation Science.

Analyzing six years of papers published about birds in international conservation journals, Daniel Brito and Monik Oprea found that while authors from eighty-four countries contributed articles, the majority of bird conservation research is conducted by North American and western European researchers, leaving a serious research gap when up to one in eight bird species may be threatened with extinction by the end of the century.

“Birds are seriously threatened and are rapidly declining worldwide,” the authors write. “However, bird conservation is still misplacing its focus in lower biodiversity regions and for some orders focusing in non-threatened species. If such trends are not changed, the consequences for the persistence of birds worldwide may be dire.”

Brito and Oprea urge “investments to build local capacity in developing countries in order to increase the number of professional and amateur ornithologists in tropical regions, where most bird diversity is located.”

“Our results show that nowadays most bird conservation studies are done on high-income countries, and by researchers based in high income countries,” they continue. “It is important for bird conservationists in tropical countries to publish the results of their research.”

Brito and Oprea say that solution lies in greater collaboration between researchers in developed and developing countries.

Brito, D. and Oprea, M. 2009. Mismatch of research effort and threat in avian conservation biology.
Tropical Conservation Science Vol.2 (3):353-362

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