Seeking Papers: Conservation Social Science Informs Bird Conservation Efforts

By Catherine Lindell, Editor-in-Chief, The Condor: Ornithological Applications

The editorial staff of The Condor: Ornithological Applications invites authors to consider the journal for their conservation social science papers that focus on birds. The journal, soon to be renamed Ornithological Applications, publishes articles that advance the conservation and management of birds. Few articles to date have been in the realm of conservation social science, a field that uses the theories and methods of the social sciences to improve conservation outcomes. As Dayer et al. argue in the latest issue of the journal, conservation efforts must consider and integrate human values, perceptions, activities, and organizational structures in order to be effective.

We encourage authors to submit studies that address human attitudes and behavior toward birds, the economics of recreational activities related to birds, traditional ecological knowledge, and social and economic facets of bird activity in unmanaged and managed ecosystems such as agriculture. Studies should inform real-world issues. For example, Naves et al. ask how we should integrate knowledge of indigenous subsistence use of birds into conservation policy and practice. Bardenhagen et al. study ways to reduce barriers to farmers for employing bird-friendly pest-management techniques

Studies that investigate whether and how particular strategies and/or policies aid in bird conservation and management are of particular interest. For example, Salazar et al. evaluated the likely causes of a large population increase in the threatened Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. The investigators used surveys of stakeholders and an analytical framework including General Elimination Methodology and Theory of Change techniques. They determined that the significant increase in the parrot population from 1998–2018 could be attributed to a social marketing campaign, environmental education in schools, and enforcement of laws related to illegal possession of the parrots, thus illustrating the value of a multi-pronged approach to parrot conservation.

The social science papers we seek should provide links between mechanisms of bird declines and conservation outcomes. For example, among other threats, Riding et al. found that birds suffer from collisions with buildings, Loss documented the effects of domestic cats on bird populations, and Ferraro et al. evaluated the effects of light pollution and anthropogenic noise on Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) reproductive success. Social science studies that inform efforts to address these issues are critical. Which strategies will be effective in working with local governing bodies, architects, and the general public to adapt building designs, keep pet cats indoors, and modify the schedule of lighting in cities, to reduce impacts on birds? 

Ornithological Applications will continue to publish high-quality research about bird biology, methodological and analytical techniques, threats to birds, and the roles of birds in ecosystems. I urge AOS members, particularly those of us with traditional natural science backgrounds, to embrace our social science colleagues and use this opportunity to become more informed about the theory, methods, and assumptions used in conservation social science work. Expanding our umbrella to include the social sciences will only improve our efforts to reverse current trends of declining bird populations and make the world a more hospitable place for bird biodiversity. 

As a membership benefit, AOS members enjoy unlimited access to Auk and Condor journal articles. Author page charges are waived for AOS members to publish in AOS journals as a corresponding author and members receive a 25% discount on optional open access fees.

Submit a paper to the Condor: Ornithological Applications editorial manager.

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