Updated: Nov 8
26 October, 2021
White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga) in Egypt’s Sinai mountains
On October 27th, IBCP’s Nico Arcilla delivered a lecture entitled, “Measuring Sustainability: Using Birds to Study Biological Conservation” by video as part of Cairo University’s Sustainability Day celebration.
Her talk focused on the question of how we can measure the sustainability of human activities in the natural world through studies of birds, using three case studies. First, she presented collaborative research with Cairo University students on advances in the timing of autumn bird migration through South Sinai, Egypt, that are correlated with advances in annual bird breeding activity due to climate change.
Next, she presented recent research on the declines in the abundance and species richness of rain forest birds in response to habitat loss due to unsustainable logging in Western Region, Ghana, compared to previous research showing that forest birds recovered over time following logging that was less intense and frequent, and therefore more sustainable.
Finally, she described declines in endemic island bird populations in Guam (USA), Okinawa (Japan), and Chilbal Islet (Korea), in response to the introduction and spread of alien invasive species (non-native snakes, mammals, and plants, respectively) and showed how these bird populations have benefited from conservation actions to control invasive species.
These and other examples demonstrate how monitoring birds’ responses to human activities, including both negative and positive impacts, provides us with a way to measure the sustainability of our interactions with the natural world. Using this information, we can make evidence-based decisions that protect the natural world and its biodiversity for our children and grandchildren to learn from and enjoy.