RESEARCH NEWS: Market data and expert opinion identify bird declines from the pet trade

4 05 2015

Our paper “Using market data and expert opinion to identify overexploited species in the wild bird trade” has been accepted for publication in Biological Conservation. I summarized the gist of the study and our main results in the list below. More information and images can be found in the Princeton University press release. See comments below for press coverage of this paper.

  • The pet trade involves 1/3 of the world’s bird species.
  • Very few data exist on the effects of the pet trade on wild bird populations.
  • Since so few data are available, non-traditional scientific approaches are needed.
  • We polled expert ornithologists to characterize changes in bird populations over time in Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • We then studied changes in market price and trade volume to see if market data could identify declining species.
  • Species with increasing price but decreasing trade volume declined in the wild.
  • Some species that increased in both price and trade volume also declined.
  • Case studies of the Yellow-crested Cockatoo and Bali Myna suggest that species increase in price and volume as they become popular. Then, as popularity increases and supply is unable to keep up with demand, price increases further, while trade volume and wild population size decrease.
  • Only two of the 14 regionally declining species are on the IUCN Red List.
  • Our results suggest that market data can be used to prioritize field studies on declining species.